Grade 5 is also working on heroes. Their teacher is a bit of a hero for me. Day after day caring about kids who are at the age and stage where education is a nuisance and an interruption to their soccer games/social lives etc.
The hero that she chose to highlight was Malala, the young girl/activist who was shot in the head while going to school, for going to school. I thought this was brave of her. Obviously this was brave of Malala, but I mean, brave for the teacher. Who knows what the views of these children would be about what the Taliban is doing?
Although our school is coed, most schools for Qataris in this country are not. The younger classes are closer to equal in representation of boys and girls but as you get older (our school only goes to grade 8 so far) the families start to pull their girls out preferring that they go to an all girls’ school.
Here in Qatar educating girls is not in question. Sheikha Moza, the Emir’s wife, is a big advocate of education for all. She has even reached out to children in other countries who can’t afford an education. Qatar University, the only government run university, is made up of 70% women and Sheikha Moza herself is a graduate.
So when the teacher introduced the story of Malala a few things surprised me. One, was that they’d never heard of her. I thought everyone had. She quickly became the symbol of the plight of many girls around the world who have to fight their way through patriarchy, poverty, tradition and prejudice to be educated. She is one of many young women in the world who struggle to be recognized as worthy of schooling and equal in her abilities to contribute in a valuable way to her community I have no idea how they missed this story, so close to home. Maybe watching the news here isn’t done as obsessively as it is at home. Maybe it was so awful that the parents shielded them. Yes, let’s go with that.
I was also surprised they didn’t know who the Taliban was. “Who are they? Why don’t they want girls to go to school?”
What was not surprising at all…..?
Teacher: What do you think of that? What do you think about people stopping girls from going to school?
Student (boy): It’s not fair Miss.
Teacher: Why not?
Student: Why should they get to stay home and play if we have to go to school!
Ah yes, the short sightedness of youth is something that seems to be in all cultures.
Luckily there was a very bright girl in the class who said: Miss, if girls can’t go to school they won’t know things and they won’t get good jobs.
Whew! There always seems to be at least one that saves the day. On most days.