I often see educators on Twitter sharing their reading for summer and last year I bought a few recommended books to read. However when it came to summer time, I was too busy spending my time exploring Paris, walking in the snow in Turku and Engleberg. I left the Australian summer and was enjoying winter in Europe. Whilst I did have an opportunity to read, I took a break from “educational” reading and simply read for pleasure.
My summer reading included “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai. This book shares the story of a young Pakistani girl who dared to continue her education despite being threatened by the Taliban. She shares her experience of being shot at, just because she was determined to continue her schooling. It is an inspirational book about the challenges she faced. The book makes me think about my own days of schooling. Like Malala, I too am from Pakistan. My parents wanted me to receive a good education and they made many sacrifices to ensure that I did. I was lucky that apart from the civil unrest that would shut down the city of Karachi on numerous occasions, I was able to attend school. My school wasn’t shut down by the Taliban. It is saddening to think that whilst in one part of the country, most girls are able to complete their education, whilst in places like Swat valley girls like Malala had to deal with their schools being shut down. Her determination in the face of the threats is admirable and I’m glad to see her story being shared with the world.
I feel that this book should be part of anyone’s summer reading. It is a powerful message of a young girl’s story of how she was determined to receive an education even though she was a girl. In Pakistan, girls from poorer families often don’t receive an education because they are raised to be homemakers and mothers. They are taught that their value is in the home. Even if they are lucky to go to school many of them get married once they finish, as was the case of many of my classmates. They don’t have the opportunity to choose whether they would like to work. Malala was lucky that her father believed she had the right to receive an education.
One of my reasons for becoming a teacher was to help others receive an education. If my family had stayed in Karachi, I would still be a teacher. I am proud that a girl from my country was able to stay strong in the face of so much opposition just because she believed she had the right to go to school. Many of my own students come from Afghanistan and Pakistan and have suffered a great deal in their young lives and most haven’t had the opportunity of going to school. Coming to Australia is a chance for them to receive an education that they has been denied to them.
This book reminds me that I am one of the lucky ones that received an education in Pakistan. As a teacher, it is my opportunity to give back to my students. I can help them learn and encourage them to achieve their dreams. It doesn’t matter where they come from or what obstacles they face, if they are determined they can be whatever they choose to be and can decide what they will do when they leave school. If a young girl like Malala can stand up against the Taliban and choose to fight for her right to education, then my students can accomplish anything they choose to do, if they believed in themselves and what they wanted.