Malala’s teacher fights for education reform

Recently, Mariam Khalique, a teacher in Pakistan and spokesperson for the Global Monitoring Report, spoke about her dedication to girl’s education in Pakistan.

In the article, “Malala was right to fight for her education,” Khalique discusses her views on education and her support for her former student and education activist, Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban.

At the start of her teaching career, Khalique explains that her school enrolled 1,000 students, of which 300 were females. While poverty and conflict contribute to low enrollment for female students, Khalique believes that many girls in her community do not attend school for cultural reasons. Khalique further explains that many families believe that a female’s place is in the home and as a result, girls do not have equal access to education.

Despite these cultural challenges, Mariam Khalique is working to change perspectives and practices in her community, stating, “These are crimes against humanity, that I have no choice but to decry.” Khalique approaches education as an innate human right. Education transforms lives and by providing all children with equal education, they will be able to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to improve their lives. By giving individuals the ability to make changes, society will experience greater long-term benefits.

While education typically refers to improving reading, writing, and mathematics, we must expand upon this tradition definition to make education more practical and valuable to communities. Education programs can also target issues such as citizenship, maternal and child health, nutrition, and sanitation.

The Global Monitoring Report states that “Education’s unique power to act as a catalyst for wider development goals can only be fully realized, however, if it is equitable…Education empowers girls and young women, in particular, by increasing their chances of getting jobs, staying healthy and participating fully in society – and it boosts their children’s chances of leading healthy lives.”

As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, it is important for us to consider the positive impacts that girls’ education can have on societies across the globe, but we must keep several points in mind: Are we creating educational programs that are culturally relevant to the specific communities they target? While Mariam Khalique explains that cultural perspectives in her community need to change, it is imperative that educational reforms and programs respect and reflect the wants and needs of a community. In order for education to have meaning and value to people, it must provide them with relevant skills and knowledge that will enable them to improve their lives. Whether it is health, nutrition or sanitation information, more job specific training, or literacy programs, we must move beyond the idea that one model of education will work across the globe and move towards increasing a community’s participation in the reform process.

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‘Burka Avenger’ Fights for Girls’ Education in Pakistan

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Original Source:
Mcintosh, S., & Day, J. (2013, 10 03). Is the burka avenger cartoon subversive fun or barely covered brainwashing?. Metro News.

Pakistan’s first locally created animation has been raising debate all over the world. The cartoon titled “Burka Avenger” was created by one of Pakistan’s biggest male pop stars, Aaron Haroon Rashid. The main character is a young, female teacher disguised in a black burqa who fights to protect the girl’s school, where she works, from the Talibani men who threaten to shut it down. The first episode portrays the Taliban and others opposed to girls’ education as evil, ignorant thugs. It is full of comments about the importance of girl’s education for themselves and future generations. Western news sources harold the cartoon for tackling real issues in girls’ education and the Taliban’s blame for shutting down schools.

Still, local critics have focused in on the burka the character wears, and have steered conversation towards that issue rather than girls’ education.

Novelist Bina Shah, blogged: ‘Is it right to take the burka and make it look “cool” for children, to brainwash girls into thinking that a burka gives you power instead of taking it away from you?’  She fears little girls will start wearing burkas to imitate the character (2013).

Fakhar Uhar-Rehman fears the show may do more harm than good and it may be seen as a “mockery of the culture” (Aljazeera, 2013).

Haroon, the creater, told CNN that he chose the burka because he wanted to uplift the good things of Islam by showing the character is a Muslim woman AND a superhero. When speaking about the general purpose of the show Haroon has taken on a fairly neutral stance and states that he simply wanted to promote positive social messages to the children of Pakistan. Haroon never comes out and says he is specifically trying to promote girls’ education. Given what happened to Malala Yousafzai and the threats of publicly promoting girls’ education in Pakistan, it’s little surprise Haroon shows caution and reserve.

Aside from the ongoing battle for girls’ education, episodes of the Burka Avenger cover other issues affecting Pakistan, including discrimination, child labor, sectarian violence, electricity shortages and protecting the environment. Haroon reminds viewers that the Burka Avenger fights with a pen and not a sword: implying the value of education over violence. Unfortunately, the local fixation on the burka seems to have blanketed the show with controversy rather than applauding it for the positive messages it gives. Perhaps this was the precise motivation of those who in today’s society cannot publicly claim their opposition of girls’ education. The Burka Avenger, and the media coverage on the show, further exemplify the political pressure and danger sometimes coupled with girls’ education around the globe. I think the show proposes a creative way to advocate for girls in a country with such strong opposition.

Sources:

(August 12, 2013) ‘Burqa avenger’ takes on the taliban. Aljazeera America. Retrieved from http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/2013/8/-burqa-avenger-takesonthetaliban.html

www.burkaavenger.com

Moshin, S. (2013, 08 05). Meet the burka avenger: a fighter for female education. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/05/world/asia/pakistan-burka-avenger/index.html?iref=allsearch

Shah, B. (2013, 07 28). Here comes the burka avenger (and she’s going to kick your ass). Retrieved from http://binashah.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-pakistani-feminists-thoughts-on-burka.html