“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”, Aristotle, the Greek philosopher had perhaps foretold the recent plight of Pakistani children back in the 300 BC. Here are some very interesting facts about Malala, the sate of education in Pakistan and of girls in the Swat Valley.
1. Constitution of Pakistan obligates the state to provide free and compulsory education to children of the age group 5 to 16 years. The Taliban however, self-empowered by the Sharia law, denounces even the grant of basic primary education to women. As per the Pakistan’s Ministry of Education estimates in 2009, the female literacy rate is around 47% against the overall figure of 54. Also amongst the Taliban dominated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa it is as low as 30%. And this is the very province where the bitter seeds of education were sowed by an innocent teenager.
2. At five feet five, with dreamy dark eyes and long black tresses humbled by a drape, she is just a conventional teenager with an unconventional zeal for being educated. Named after a famous Pashtun poet and warrior woman.
3. Malala started documenting her life as a school girl under the Taliban regime in Swat Valley for a BBC blog under a pseudonym. She was at age twelve and in seventh grade at that time.
4. She along with her family was a witness to the Second Battle of Swat Valley, post which the ban on female education was an on and off affair. Tentative parents would refrain sending their girls to school fearing Taliban reprisals. By then the true identity of her pseudonym was revealed and so was her iron will to pursue the cause of female education. She was fearless and unreserved in her despise for the ban.
5. Owing to her growing popularity, on 9 October 2012, it was unanimously agreed by the Taliban hierarchy to assassinate her. She was shot with a single bullet in a bus and received critical wounds to her head and shoulder. She was air lifted to England and after a surgery of her brain she regained stability.
It was then On 15 October 2012, UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, visited her, and launched a petition in her name using the slogan “I am Malala”. The petition demanded compulsory education for children all over the world to be accorded compulsory education. Malala has been nominated for a host of awards including the Nobel Peace Prize for her endeavours. But I guess the true reward for her efforts will still take some time to accomplish.