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Malala Inspirational... and Right About Solution

Did you hear Malala Yousafzai on the Today programme this morning? Utterly inspirational. Not only incredibly brave, but such a clear mind, gently and eloquently expressed by someone with vision.

Malala believes the Taliban and presumably therefore all crazed fundamentalists who believe their god requires stoneage knowledge (Boko Haram means 'Western Education is a Sin' in Hausa) can only be stopped by properly educating the next generation... YES!

I've blogged many times that confronting ideologies with force only leads to deeper seated beliefs (on both sides), and ultimately more violence. Malala says the reason the Taliban and their political supporters do what they do to stop 'western' education, especially for girls but also boys, is because that is the one thing they fear - young minds believing an alternative 'truth' to the one they were brainwashed into believing by similarly brainwashed mullahs when they were growing up.

Call it the Stockholm Effect (where hostages can end up taking the view of their fixated kidnappers), or simply a malleable mind adopting an attitude of safety, and you can easily see how Boko Haram, al-Shabaab (Kenya Westgate), al Qaeda, the Taliban et al were bred from madrassas. Boys being force-fed things they can't argue against, or are afraid to argue against - especially in the face of terrifying apostasy laws. And boys being told they could do what they liked with their women. The biggest crime, they are told, is to not believe the stuff they are being fed.

Malala is still a muslim. There's time for this 16-year-old to question the likelihood of supercomputers in the sky controlling everything in the universe. That apart, her argument is to allow the minds of children everywhere, but especially in Pakistan, to be opened and not strangled or killed - as nearly happened to her. She believes that education and the knowledge it delivers is a wonderful thing to be welcomed and enjoyed by children, not feared and even despised.

Which leads me to another point she made this morning - why our own education systems in the west are not better 'sold' to our own kids. She makes the point that the education she has witnessed during the year she has been here in the UK, is entirely taken for granted by her schoolmates. They regard it as an obligation to be endured, not a privilege to be exploited. If they do well, it's often to impress their parents, not to improve their own minds and help them better contribute to their society. She is amazed that British kids don't 'want' to go to school, they are made to go and would rather be doing trivial things.

If parents don't believe they had received any benefit from classrooms, and can't demonstrate it's benefits to their children, why and how would they encourage their children to get the most out of it? It's not just about making education more fun (which is important). It's about helping kids and their parents to believe that they will acquire skills and understandings that will enable them to achieve more with their lives, including winning more friends, attracting better partners, and making more money. It's called self-improvement, and you don't start the process by calling the lessons Maths, English and Geography etc. What on earth do each of these imply in terms of 'benefits'? Perhaps English should be called Expression and Persuasion. Maths might become Working it Out, or just Don't Sound Thick. Needs more thought, but you get the idea.

Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize!! And don't spend money on bombs. Spend it on education, here and abroad. Pay teachers really well, but have them rated, like TripAdvisor, by their peers and students. And sack the crap ones!

Support the Malala Fund here.


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