Peace & education

There are 50 million children aged between 5 and 15 that do not attend school because they are either part of, or affected by, armed conflicts throughout the world.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani, 16-year-old girl that risked death by Taliban hands for going to school. This happened in the Swat Valley, on the border with Afghanistan. This area of Pakistan is swarming with Islamic extremists  that control the area and destroy schools for girls in an attempt to nullify their right to education.

Last October Malala was hit by a gunshot to the head while riding a bus on her way back from school. “They have killed my fear and my lack of hope. They have given birth to will and strength,” she says regarding the event.

On July 12, her sixteenth birthday, Malala, with a girl’s face and a woman’s words, spoke at the UN Youth Assembly:

“The Taliban are scared of the power of education… They are scared of the power of women. That is why they kill, because they are afraid…

We should not forget that millions of people suffer from poverty, injustice and ignorance. We should not forget that millions of children are not inside their schools. We should not forget that our brothers and sisters are waiting for a bright and peaceful future.

So let us lead a glorious battle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.   We must embrace books and pens, for they are the most powerful weapons. A child, a teacher, a book and a pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.  Education is the first priority.”

These are words that not only deeply moving, they are a concrete and very determined exhortation to everyone and anyone working in the areas of development. Malala is telling us that education ought always be central to any and all of our efforts if we ever expect to reach peace.