Last week saw a buzz around Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year old Pakistani who was shot by the Taliban for believing that everyone is entitled to an education. On the eve of the anniversary of that shooting, word got out that she’d been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She even appeared on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, where she gave this amazing interview.
In the end, she didn’t win the prize. The buzz died down. I hope and pray that it never dies away.
Candidly, I don’t agree with everything that Malala says. I think that education is one component in improving life for individuals and societies — but it’s not the only one. Still, so much of her message is dead on.
Depriving someone of education is tantamount to robbing them of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
No institution — religious or secular — that would deny education to its people deserves to stand. What, after all, are they afraid of?
So how can we honor Malala and make sure her voice is heard? You and I can’t change the way education is being suppressed in Taliban-controlled areas of Pakistan. But there’s plenty to do here at home.
In my home state of North Carolina, the legislature has strangled education budgets until now we’re on the lower rungs in terms of teacher salaries and class sizes. Faced with dwindling pay and burgeoning bureaucracy, an alarming number of good teachers are throwing in the towel and leaving the profession. Let’s hold our elected leaders accountable for this.
I’m not naive enough to believe that we can fix education in this country simply by throwing money at it. But wouldn’t things improve if our elected leaders took Malala’s words to heart and gave education its due? What if we set a national goal of providing excellent education to all of our children — similar to President Kennedy’s audacious goal in the 1960s of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade? What are afraid of?
No, Malala didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s honor her anyway.
Image: Wikipedia Commons