1 October, 2020

Blog

The World’s Most Famous Teenager Wants To Change The World Through Education 

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“Only the educated are free”-Epictetus

Anybody who hasn’t heard of Malala Yousafzai? The sixteen year old school girl from Pakistan? Why is she so remarkable?

Well, to put it in shorthand, in the year 2014 Malala was recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. By that time, she had been flown to Birmingham after the Taliban shot her point-blank on 9th October 2012 and bruised her head. She was returning home in her school bus when the Taliban entered the bus, asked for her by name and shot her. A world-wide uproar erupted.

Recovering from the brain injury, Malala was settled in a school in England. One day in 2014, the head teacher called for her. Malala was a bit scared wondering if she had done anything wrong. To her amazement, the head teacher told her that she has achieved global fame by being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! She eventually became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate ever. Before that, Malala had won the National Peace Prize in Pakistan. Time Magazine voted her as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world.

malala-yousafzaiNow, wasn’t that serious business? For a mere school girl?

Teenagers stereotypically spend their time in fun and frolic and in what adults call silly stuff. They are full changing their profiles in Facebook and social media. They ogle at boys and want to risk involvement with them. They read stories of romance and vampires and hover around comics. But some persons see far ahead what others of their genre don’t see. They dream a dream that drives them forward. Malala was one such rare teenager.

I will tell you another remarkable thing Malala did. She once told Barrack Obama to his face that sending drones to Pakistan was not simply done.

In her days in Pakistan, Malala fearlessly criticised the Taliban and publicly spoke of their horrors. She wrote to a BBC Blog in Urdu under a pseudonym about the plight of Muslim girls in the Swat Valley where she lived. Since then, the Taliban was stalking her; even now they say they will kill her anytime. Malala would have, presumably, been seen as threat by the Taliban warriors. Mind you, a teeny tiny teenager! Taliban would have spotted some unusual danger in Malala’s steely aura.

After the shooting Malala was flown into Birmingham Hospital which had specialised in brain surgery. Although she recovered, her left side of the face is sort of paralysed and her ear is dead-forever. “I blink in my left eye every time I talk,” she said. Yet, the resilient Malala fights on. On International Women’s Day 2015 Malala addressed a big audience in London’s Royal Festival Hall and announced that she wants to change the world forever. She had originally desired to be a doctor but at the festival hall she said that she wants to go to politics because thereby she can give effect to her ambition to change a whole country. The scope of a Doctor’s impact is so much more narrower. She plans to return to Pakistan after her education, Taliban notwithstanding.

Malala is remarkable in yet another way. Her unique strategy to change the world had never been spelt out by anyone before. She said she will change the world through education. More schools and more teaching. Towards this end, she started the not-for- profit fund called the Malala Fund that helps lots of backward communities in a community-led education development program.

This is visionary insight indeed. Particularly so for a teenager. A broad education can endow children with critical skills, comprehension, breadth of view, and skills-all crucial for a country’s development. The path to the breakdown of poverty is education. The path to creating a critical electorate is education and the path to transparency of public life are the watchful demands of an educated electorate. In Pakistan 60 per cent of the population have no education. In most countries, girls are the most marginalised in terms of education. In many Muslim countries girls on reaching puberty become disconnected from education and trapped into domestic chores. Disabled people have no access to education in most parts of the world and there some 6 billion disabled people around the world. In our own Sri Lanka that boasts of literacy, about 60 per cent become dropouts from higher education. Parents are so poor that they cannot support kids for long enough to complete a school; education. Literacy is not education; it is only a path to that goal.

AC Grayling, contemporary British philosopher, puts it eloquently. He says, “education, especially ‘liberal education,’ is what makes civil society possible.” This emphasis tallies with Malala’s aspirations and it differs from the thinking of ordinary persons and politicians who value education only for its contribution to the economy. The very possibility of civil society is at stake when education levels are ignored. Grayling defines a liberal education as education that includes literature, history,and the appreciation of the arts, and gives them equal weight with scientific and practical subjects.

Malala has published her memoirs under the title: ”I am Malala.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Mr Jayasingha, the time and effort in writing this article will be well spent indeed, if you bring the achievements of this remarkable young woman to many more people.

    Education alone is not enough if it does not come with a good grounding in the humanities.

    That is what 90% of our Sri Lankan education lacks. The local thinking for sometime now has been ‘exam success’ – the be all and end all of the shitty system we have developed. I fear I do not see imminent change on the horizon, and that is why I say a proper civic society will be a long time coming.

  • 3
    1

    Shyamon Jayasinghe

    RE: The World’s Most Famous Teenager Wants To Change The World Through Education

    “Anybody who hasn’t heard of Malala Yousafzai? The sixteen year old school girl from Pakistan? Why is she so remarkable?”

    Yes. She is so remarkable because early in life she identified one of major problems, education, and was seeking solutions. Unfortunately, she happened to be living in Taliban infested Territory, and was targeted.

    Furthermore, she is a Muslim girl, who fought for education. Why do the Mullah, Ulamas and others want to keep the women uneducated? Self interest. On most of South Asia, the Ulamas and mullahs do not allow women to go to the Mosques. Why? Self-Interest.

    So who are these Talibans? They are one of the Wahhabi Offshoot branches of Saudi Wahhabism, that follows Iblis, Satan, Shaitan, Devil, Lucifer and Mara.

    [Edited out]

  • 6
    0

    Malala is a remarkable young woman.

    Unfortunately, she is used by the US and Europeans to further their agenda.

    How many “Malalas” were killed by the very people who are shedding tears about Malala? Is it because the gun of a Taliban is worst than a drone of a bomb of the US or Europeans?

    Where are the Nobel Peace Prizes for the dead “Malalas”?

  • 5
    0

    With due respect to Malala, she is a creation of the West.
    She was hand picked by the West. She couldnt speak one word of English or express herself or articulate herself. She was put through finishing schools, Enlish schools and oratory schools.

    She is now paraded all over the world as the saviour of the female sex.

    There are many young girls killed, maimed, incapacitated everyday in Afghanistan and Syria and middle east by US bombing. There young women and girls raped and murdered all over the world. No one to speak for them

  • 1
    0

    Malala herself needs to be satiated with wisdom through education although her ambitions are lofty and noble. Unfortunately, education is yet to “liberate” the selfish political mindset of a few Western leaders because they fail to respect and comprehend that Russia, China, India, South America, Africa and the entire Muslim world are equal partners in this world. Wether these leaders like it or not, the world resources need to be shared and we need to work together towards world peace. Unfortunately, education has certainly not freed the philistines in the UK or American political establishment that cannot even get their foreign policy straight. No matter where their education comes from, whether it be from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale or God’s University of divinity, the true meaning of education is meaningless to those who cannot put their learning and wisdom into action for the betterment of civilizations and society. Just look at the carnage left by politicians such as Blair, Bush’s, Cameron, and Obama’s by furthering their selfish pro-zionist agendas. In contrast to these politicians, look at the philanthropic contributions to education from those like Sir Ganesh Dutt, Anil Agrawal, Andrew Carnegie, Will Kellogg, Milton Hershey, Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Terry Gue, Elon Musk and many others have gifted us to make ours a better and safer planet.

  • 1
    1

    It is possible that Obama even today sent a drone into Pakistan or Afghanistan which killed a few innocent children.

    All this just to keep the Zionist Banks and Weapons manufacturers in business. Hopefully before he leaves Office he will taste the retribution that awaits him.

  • 0
    3

    Will Mr Jayasinghe check how the 1000 Mahindodaya Vidyalayas for the Dalits are progressing under Batalanda & Sira’s Yahaalnaya, when he next visits the ex Motherland ?…

  • 5
    0

    She said she will change the world through education. “”

    Whom??

    Psychoanalyists often cure mental patients by making them review their past and see life objectively. Perhaps if mankind will think more of their past, they would also have a better mastery over themselves. The knowledge that we have an animal heritage and that we are very near the beasts might help to check our behaving like beasts. This animal heritage of ours makes it easier to see ourselves as we are in animal fables and satires, as in Aesop’s Fables, Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowles, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Anatole France’s Penguin Island. These animal fables were good in Aesop’s day and will be good in the year AD 4000.

    How can we remedy the situation?? The critical mind is too thin and cold, thinking itself will help little and reason will be a small avail; only the spirit of reasonableness, a sort of warm glowing, emotional and intuitive thinking, joined with compassion, will insure us against a reversion to our ancestral type. Only the development of our life to bring it into harmony with our instincts can save us. I consider the education of our senses and our emotions rather more important than the education of ideas.

  • 0
    0

    The quote from AC Grayling in the last para is apt. Education should include the arts, literature and humanities in addition to science and technology. This makes a valuable and well-balanced citizen who can think for himself and who can comprehend the complexities of mankind. Congrats, Shyamon!

  • 0
    1

    I have commented on the poor english of some of our writers, usually if a writer becomes a repeat offender. Well, this writer is such a person. We read of “Nobel prize laureate”, and then “sending drones to Pakistan was not simply done”, and clumsy constructions like “Malala would have, presumably, been seen as threat by the Taliban warriors”, “her left side of the face”, “she wants to go to politics “, “the path to transparency of public life are the”, and “there some 6 billion disabled people around the world.”, with not even a verb, are easily found in this essay.

    Does poor writing or bad grammar indicate careless, slip-shod thinking, or lack of respect form the reader? A little attention can help a hundred fold. Good writing skills are also a part of a liberal education.

    Didn’t Dick Cheney and Rusmfeld have liberal educations in the top liberal colleges of the USA? Didn’t Kissinger, a top Harvard academic and butcher of Vietnam have a liberal education?

    Didn’t the “AC GRayling types” with their “liberal education” from Eaton and Harrow run the British Empire, disbursing opium on unsuspecting Chinese, distributing small-pox impregnated clothes among native Indians, and committing genocide in countries like Ceylon or India, while plundering their riches? Of course they quoted the Bard and knew the realms of Gold. What about T. S. Eliot types who supported Hitler? What about the highly educated products of liberal collages in the US and UK who end up as top members of “civil society”, who may be lawyers or CEOs, who use their education to exploit the masses, or become sycophants to some politician? They use their education to become spin-doctors to generate false propaganda for Blair, Cameron, Bush, Clinton or Putin?

    Liberal education without moral direction is a dangerous sword.

  • 1
    0

    Sincere wishes to Malala in her courageous endeavours. Bensen

  • 0
    0

    Great article, Mr Jayasinghe-brilliantly written. You always come out with food for thought. Malala is an example to all in the world.

  • 0
    0

    ‘Anonymous.’ refers to ‘moral education.’ There is nothing called moral education. You cannot impart moral education. How can you? This is why Professor Grayling stresses on the arts and humanities. It is through these disciplines that people will learn to empathise with others and empathy is the heart of moral behaviour.
    Anonymous’s criticism of Jayasinghe’s writing is totally misplaced. Jayasinghe employs a pleasant and light journalistic style that is different from the style employed in scholarly presentations. Journalistic writing is a genre of its own.

  • 0
    0

    One of the commentators states that Malala is an American agent. He or she is a miserable cynic and a liability to the human race

  • 0
    0

    Shyamon Jayasinghe is a Classics scholar – a brilliant academic and an intellectual who has shone as a CAS officer in the Sri Lanka Public service and is noted for his honesty and integrity. He possesses excellent language skills both Sinhala and English. Just read the contents which are thought provoking and well presented.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.