FIRST PERSON | Many Americans following the story of 14-year old Malala Yousufzai feel stunned and outraged. Malala, an outspoken Pakistani teen, was shot and critically wounded by the Taliban for speaking about girls' education issues in her country. Two of Malala's classmates were also wounded in the attack as they were coming home from school.
As a parent and educator, it deeply saddens me to think about what Malala and her country is going through. In the United States, we cannot imagine a scenario where our students, our daughters, or our sons would experience this kind of discrimination over educational opportunities. I spend my days teaching children Malala's age, and I see some who don't appreciate what our education system has to offer. More often than not, however, I see kids who desperately want to take advantage of the knowledge, structure and learning that go on within our school walls.
I spent part of last summer teaching at a Muslim boarding school in Indonesia; a school where children definitely knew that the education they were receiving was their ticket to a better life. I watched boys and girls come from neighboring islands, eager to attend school at this prestigious place. I thought about how hard they worked, how far they traveled, and how much they sacrificed for an education. When I heard Malala's story, I couldn't help but think how much she was willing to risk to fight for her right to an education.
I'm hopeful that Afghan President Hamid Karzai's attempts to work with the Pakistani government will prevail. No child should be denied an education. No child should have to die for one, either.
Jennifer Wolfe is a mom to two teens, as well as a middle school teacher in California. She has degrees in elementary and secondary education and has taught for 22 years.
- Teaching & Learning