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Malala Day

Malala Yousafzai speaks at the United Nations Youth Assembly.

Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani school girl, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt addressed thousands at the United Nation’s headquarters in New York on her 16th birthday. “Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.” Malala shares that the extremists are frightened by the power of education and that “books and pens are our most powerful weapons.”

Worldwide, girls continue to be discriminated against based on cultural attitudes, child labor, conflict, and domestic labor. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report, released a new policy paper that states: the number of children out of school has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011. However, 28 million children out of school live in the world's conflict zones; more than half of those are women and girls.

Much like Malala, Mennathallah Shapaan Morsy Hikal (21 years old) is extremely passionate about education. As a member of the Independent Teachers’ Union of Egypt, spoke on behalf of Education International at the Malala Day event at the UN. Mennathallah wants to fight for the right of education, especially for girls. She would also like to see more effective government funding for schools. The problem, she says, is not money but how the money is being spent; teachers need to receive proper training in order to provide children with quality education that they deserve. The fact of the matter is that she feels that everyone is and can learn from Malala; she wants everyone to fight for the right to be educated, just like Malala.

The United Nations Youth Assembly and Malala Day included a delegation from Education International – young teachers and student teachers from NEA (David Tjaden and Alexis Ploss) in the United States, Pakistan, Egypt, Honduras, Jamaica, and the Netherlands

Malala’s passion and tenacity for education are clear, “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.”

Malala' gives voice to those who have not been heard. She spoke on behalf of everyone who is a dreamer, who longs for a quality education; regardless of race, religion, gendar, famliy income or geographic location. Every child should have the right to a quality education. Malala’s passion for education lives amongst many people and that passion fuels the fight for a quality education. Everyone can learn from the 16-year-old’s desire to fight and take a stand.