Friday, 12 July 2013

A Brave Young Girl

For you or me, education is a fact of life. It is something that we have done, are doing, or, although it would mean that you are probably too young to understand what I am writing, about to enter in too. A life without education is an alien concept, and only a very small minority are without it in the western world.

In fact, both genders are given the opportunity to endure the hardships of homework, the tortures of exams and the unending study of Shakespeare. Education is something that we all hold in common with one another, and all, at points, have despised with a worrying amount of passion.

Its value, however, has recently been affirmed by a young Pakistani girl. She comes from a place where educational standards are improving, which is brilliant, but also where there is not get enough opportunity or quality.

Malaya Yousafzai has only just turned 16, but is already speaking in front of he world at UN conferences, and was campaigning through Pakistan until she was shot by the Taliban. Fortunately, she survived, and the attack on her life has simply galvanised her effort to make sure that women are not left behind in the development of Pakistan.

In Britain, girls often outperform boys in education, at least in the early stages of school, but there is fierce opposition in much of Malala's home country to the idea that a girl should gain an education. It is not her place to gain knowledge, and she has certainly gained something of a negative reaction for a lot of people.

She also, being something of a bright student, a role model and a potential Nobel prize winner, has developed some fascinating ideas as to why women are being stopped from being educated. She believes that it is because extremists are afraid of the people who can pick up a pen, they are terrified of hose who want to be able to think for themselves and open their minds to the rest of the world.

Yep, she is going down the much walked, and strangely mocked, route of saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. Obviously, a lot of people will be wondering what the value of an education is when you are facing down the barrel of a gun, and also simply dismiss Malala as another one of those ridiculously heroic people that are wheeled it every now and again to speak out for some strange, but unrealistic, dream.

The problem is that Malala is not some charity case, and has actually been shot while still believing that education, and the ability to think, is a more power weapon than a bullet. You have to admit that her claims are at least worth listening to.

Her belief has merit, after all. You can terrify a population, force them down and persecute them, but they can never truly be broken by force alone. There will always be opposition from those brave enough to think, and the Taliban doesn't want women to do the thinking, or they might question the extremism that keeps them down.

In fact, every oppressive regime, or negative force in this world, likes to stop people being able to open their minds up to reality, something that education and study can help do, even if it is not the only method. Reason and wisdom are the enemies of darkness, after all. Removing or controlling education is effective in controlling a group of people.

Everyone who has acted to distort or manipulate Christianity, or even destroy it, for example, has tried to close people's minds to it. It's continued presence despite seemingly overwhelming opposition is testament to the relationship with God that has resulted from people opening their minds and hearts to Him.

Although, I stress, you don't become a Christian through education. It is simply that honest, true, education can open someone's mind, and Christianity is an example of the honest, open minded power that people are afraid of. 

Independent thought, and education which is often the driving force behind it, is such a powerful thing that you have to lend your support to Malala's belief that the Taliban are afraid of women who can think.

Education is a powerful tool, something that is instrumental in changing a society, even though it results it results in homework, and brave young girl in Pakistan has done wonders in alerting the world to this. She wants every child to receive an education, a dream which, however difficult or improbable, is still something worth working for.

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