Posts Tagged ‘ Education ’

The Brazen, Beautiful Humanity of Malala Yousafzai

By Karen Angela Ellis for Urban Faith

Malala 1

It is easy to imagine Malala Yousafzai gracing the cover of TIME magazine as its Person of the Year . Her soft brown eyes peek at us from pictures that have surfaced from the ripples of a sudden plunge into the spotlight. Her story is so dramatic, so much the essence of the human rights struggle that the it continues to fascinate and inspire worldwide. Her hair, side-parted and modestly covered, Miss Yousafzai demonstrates a hunger for peace well beyond her 14 years. In 2011, she was awarded the National Peace Award by the Government of Pakistan for her courage in seeking restoration of peace and education services. In a short span of time, this tiny girl has become a towering figure in her pursuit of justice for herself and 50,000 other schoolgirls who lost the right to education in their Pakistani communities.

Millions more are now familiar with Miss Yousafzai, who was forced off of her school bus, shot in the head, and critically wounded along with two other young schoolgirls at the hands of the Taliban. She continues to heal in the safety of a UK hospital, the government and the world watching over her as if she were the little sister of us all.

Since 2009, when Miss Yousafzai was a mere tween in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, the hope for education has burned in her heart. While other girls in freer societies tweeted their obsessions with fashion and musical heart throbs, Miss Yousafzai dodged daily threats to become internationally known for her blog that promoted the restoration of the education stolen from her and her classmates.

Her opponents brazenly confessed planning her demise for at least a year. This time they were mercifully denied satisfaction, though they threaten further attempts will be made until her voice is silenced. With ironic justice, the public magnification of her courage has likewise magnified her opponent’s cowardice, exposing grown men who will go to such lengths to snuff out any beacon of light that pierces the darkness of their own souls.

Nothing New Under the Sun
As a Christian woman, when I think of the social conditions that were in place when Christ walked the earth, I am forced to see how little a young girl’s plight has changed in many areas of the world. Centuries may have passed, but the fundamental flaws in our human character remain the same, and they are often unavoidably woven into the fabric of our societies, both free and restricted.

Knowing this, Christ’s counter-cultural treatment of women stands out in relief. In the first-century Roman Empire, a woman held very little sway on matters political or civil; their social plight two thousand years ago foreshadows the Taliban’s restrictions on a woman’s movements today, be they physical, psychological, political or intellectual.

Converse to these gaping holes in our societal fabric, the Bible’s high esteem for women and girls is recorded throughout its narrative. Indeed, many accounts in the Gospels tell us that Christ’s constant consideration of women was radical indeed for its day — His high view of women is perhaps best displayed and recorded in Luke 24 in the first witness of His resurrection and victory over hell, death and the grave; His greatest triumph was first revealed to a group of women (Luke 24:1-12).

These women gathered at his empty tomb were entrusted with the first knowledge of the risen Savior; an affirmation of God’s high estimation of the word, witness and worth of a woman (Mark 16:1-8, Matthew 28:1-10). There is one sole Entity who could first assess, and then restore a woman’s social worth properly as beings who bear the very image of God ; that is the Creator of that image, God, Himself (Genesis 1:26-31). These women were divinely commissioned to tell His disciples that Christ had risen, and the news of Hope for all humanity began to spread. “Go, tell the others what you have seen….” What a humbling honor, indeed, to be charged with bearing what has become a life-altering message for so many — including myself.

Today, Miss Yousafzai’s story is known worldwide; it was a proverbial “shot heard ’round the world.” It’s doubtful that life for this young woman will ever be the same, yet she and her family have accomplished more as ordinary citizens than many politicians have been able to do collectively. From her tormentor’s perspective, she must seem as one of the foolish things of the world that has confounded the self-proclaimed “wise.” In her courage, she has shown wisdom that they cannot comprehend. A mere and simple girl, who should have been easily silenced, now heals from her wounds with the protection of the world. She stands defiant in her innocence, large in the power of her perceived weakness.

I salute the courage of Miss Yousafzai and her classmates; they have stirred a passion in the world, and made us consider and confront our own humanity. May they be victorious in their quest not only for education and a just society, but also in their larger quest for recognition and in understanding the fullness of their humanity. May they also receive the full dignity and significance that is their right by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and may they come to know the One in whose majestic image they are made.

The Education System of Pakistan- Past, Present, and Future

By Nagwa Malik for Pakistanis for Peace

Pakistan, when it appeared on the world map was referred to  by the Muslims of India as the “Land of Dreams”—not just because of the ideology behind its creation, nor by the method of its creation, both of which were unique in world history, but also because of the untiring work put out immediately by the masses and the leaders together making the world sit up, especially China, Korea and Singapore who, inspired by the fast “overnight” progress Pakistan was making, decided to follow our footsteps and are now farther ahead of us.

The ideology penned down and explained at length by Dr. Allama Iqbal created a wave. This two-nation theory, once accepted by the practical renowned barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was put to effect, and Pakistan was born in the name of religion (Gandhi had tried a truce with Jinnah, agreeing to divide the country as brothers divide property, but not in the name of religion. Jinnah maintained the ideology of Islam and the two-nation theory, refusing Gandhi’s offer), and it was born constitutionally. The people were so excited over the power to make their future, that no one lost time or drive to get down to it. Pakistan made the Muslim world sit up again through its people’s drive, sincerity, talent and growing renown in the field of science, following in the footsteps of  many Muslim scholars and doctors that first brought science in an organized manner to that part of the world.

Have we forgotten that Pakistan already? Has it been so long since Pakistan last made an impression? Have we forgotten that not less than 20 years ago royal families from around the world, especially the Arab and African world sent their sons to study in our schools and colleges and universities? Have forgotten the massive immigration to this “Land of Hope” from all over Asia whenever people wanted to live in peace and prosperity? Pakistan was called the “Country of Doctors and Engineers” in the West and when there was an educational boom in African countries, amongst the most wanted and accepted educationists were those from Pakistan.

Even today most of the engineers in America and Europe, securing good positions in their jobs are from Pakistan, and even today most of the competent doctors we find in the West are from Pakistan—difference is, today nobody seems to note that fact. Nobody seems to count it anymore.

In the late sixties, especially in 1969, articles were written on the youth of Britain referring them to be probably the best generation yet, where strings of charity and community works were detailed and even there Pakistani youths were mentioned amongst the immigrants that added to community work, for example the Pakistani boys in Southall, Middlesex, going shopping for elderly people, and in the process learning colloquial English.

What happened then? Where did all the disillusionment begin? Why did all this positive images of Pakistan suddenly allow itself to flicker and burn out? Why did the education system fail us not more than ten years ago? We know that even today our education quality is higher compared to the quality abroad—then why do we choose to go abroad for education? Because we have lost the standard, not the quality, of educational system. The system has broken the backbone of our educational sectors. We have fake degrees allotted, we have references, and we have papers switched. Nothing is wrong with the actual standard of our education even now—but then again, what good is quality education when we cannot benefit from it? Schooling till Matric level  is compulsory and reportedly free—but nobody avails himself of the government schools because there are no teachers, and despite the fact that it is claimed free, it is not: payment of books, of a lot of miscellaneous stuff add up to a normal tuition fee anyway.

Only the colleges and professional universities are managing to maintain their merit—then again, the system has penetrated them so it doesn’t matter either way.

What went wrong was the generations before us, especially the previous two, lost the meaning of Pakistan. They indulged in materialism, selfishness and corruption. They were greedy children who ate everything that was cooked, and plucked the unripe ventures. The youth today is no less than the generation that made Pakistan. This present generation has been given nothing to run. It has to build; it has to start from scratch. The problem is this generation isn’t given the tools or the chance to start anything. If given even the slightest chance, the youth of today is capable and has the loyalty and the drive to reach Pakistan to its heights with the same overnight progress that was made by the creators of Pakistan.

This generation needs to remember the glory days of Pakistan and to gain confidence in itself rather than sit glumly and state, “What can we do”. A nation of 160 million cannot do anything? That is not possible. Our ancestors made their chance to make Pakistan; they were not given any chance. Our youth needs to pick itself up and march forward, remove all the dead wood (the old generation that still sits in power even after corrupting the very soil of our country) and begin afresh.  To quote Adlai Stevenson, “Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.” And to further quote a solution, “To fulfil a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labour, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy” (Bette Davis). Everything will be rendered useless without honesty. Our country, our individuals are corrupted to the core so that lying is as breathing: we must search our souls and bring back our lost integrity through honesty: the first and foremost rule in Islam.

A country that produced success stories in its diaspora all over the world in such a short space of time is a country worth working hard for, worth looking into. It is a promising country with a promising past and an equally promising future, if only we take the step.

We haven’t lost anything yet. We can relive the glory of our small but so rich country. We ourselves are enough to turn things around. We don’t need help from anyone. In order to get things done properly, one must do them oneself. Dependency results in and breeds despondency, as we have experienced these past years.

We only need confidence and unity. We are already patriots, of that there is no doubt. We are united in our hearts, but we lack the confidence of success, but without toil how can one know? It is better to try rather than to wonder for the rest of our lives how things could or would be had we taken action. It’s only been 60 years, and this is a small length of time for the country is still young and all the mistakes have been made, so there is no more mistake left to make—that is an encouraging factor. Pakistan can still shine again as it did, in education, in sports, in talent, in technology and in every other profession imaginable. We were a nation that inspired, what’s to stop us from inspiring again? It is just a matter of cause and effect as it has always been.

%d bloggers like this: