Oct. 9, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a gunman while on a bus on her way home from school. After undergoing brain surgery and multiple treatments, she survived and continued advocating for education and women’s rights.
Malala is a 15-year-old girl from Pakistan who, at the age of 11, began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC. Schools in her region were being destroyed, and she wasn’t permitted to attend because of her gender, so she wrote about her experiences, saying “even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”
While Malala is the most well-known, she is only one of thousands of students around the world being left without an education.
In some cases, education is eschewed because of the cost, or to work in support of one’s family.
In war-ridden and oppressive regimes, going to school becomes a life and death situation.
A hundred years ago in parts of the US, this backwards mentality was prevalent, and higher education was reserved solely for men; women were allowed to become teachers or nurses at best.
Alternatively, women could attend elementary school for the basics and then stop to work for their family.
Fortunately, things have progressed in this country with provisions like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and required education.
The fact that it’s nearly 2013 and there are regions across the globe still stuck in that phase is hard to conceptualize. Education is not a privilege, but a right and should be provided to all. It’s the one thing that equalizes everyone, regardless of socio-economic status or background. It gives everyone a chance.
Granted, there are varying qualities of education, but at the least, children should be provided with the fundamentals and have the chance to seek out further opportunities. There is an anonymous quote that reads “What if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who can’t afford an education?” To take it one step further, it could be trapped inside the mind of a child that wants to go to school and has the means, but can’t.
There’s a petition circulating around social media titled, “Take a Stand for the Girl Who Stood Up: Nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize.” It has more than 185,000 signatures from people all across the world and is gaining increased recognition. For everything she’s gone through and stands for, the award would be well-deserved for Malala.
As people prepare for finals, they should remember to never take the given right to an education for granted and spare a thought to those in the world still struggling for it.
Iman Sahnoune is a graduate student studying neuroscience and may be reached at [email protected]