If you could choose one, what would be your most important issue in the world that you would choose to do something about?
Malala Yousafzai recently visited Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She was visiting a country that in many ways is quite the opposite of her own. Especially when it comes to the issue she struggles; children’s and especially girls’ right to education. A right that we in this and many other western countries have made a basic foundation for the entire existence of modern society. We have come so far that we can even question its existence, its development and we keep on introducing reforms to improve what in many, many people’s eyes is more than perfect. We can say that our education system is outdated, unnecessary and sometimes even counterproductive.
And, on the other side, we have the exact opposite, where just the mere opportunity to pay to go to school is a privilege. My mother (and father) grew up in the same country as her. They came to Norway as young adults and have lived here ever since, but our roots will always be traceable to a history that began when the division of the then British-controlled India began. Mom always stressed the importance of an education and to use the opportunity available in their “new” country. In Norway, you can get public education until national university level for free. Now, some would say that it is not completely free, or equally accessible, but these are small details regarding the huge international differences. It is hardly as bad as the stories my mom told me about the young people who read and worked around the clock to get acceptance at higher degree studies they could not afford to undertake.
It’s definitely not the case here. Young people, especially girls of Pakistani origin are getting into universities and colleges in this country. They are making every use of this opportunity because their parents have encouraged and pushed them (sometimes a little too hard, maybe) to it. If you want to conquer the society, you need to understand how it works, for that, you have to learn it first, and this lesson starts with schooling. With a well-developed educational system from primary school to university, the only effort you put in, is your hard and prolonged hard work. These young people have been told what the conditions are uneducated, they have seen the quality of life without education and how education gives power and insight to bring about change. Many young people have used this opportunity and it’s been great too. We see a change for a population group that originally would have had limited opportunities in the country of origin. When a country invests in its citizens from a very early point by free schooling, these individuals become valuable resources later on. They build up the country, they manage knowledge and resources, and have the ability to bring about change and innovation for the good (and unfortunately, maybe, sometimes the bad too).
Malala one day wants to be the Prime Minister of the country where free school for all is yet a utopia. I have always thought and been determined that if Pakistan is to develop and grow as a country, they have to do something drastic with access to education for every single child. Education and knowledge will gradually be able to solve many challenges and long term issues the country is struggling with today. Grassroots must be mobilized, national goals must be anchored locally and you have to engage people. The one who will succeed, must begin the task early in her life, prepare and mobilize around them thoroughly. So when the time finally comes, it will enhance the ability to put in place laws and decisions that lead to the desired changes. Now it’s not like I envision that this will happen without any problems, but this is a girl who has come a long way in her few short years of life (she is almost half my age!) So there is clearly a strong hope with Malala!