With half of September already behind us, the new school year is finally in swing for children across America - and the excitement of back-to-school season is undeniably contagious! I can remember the start of each year: fresh, unopened school supplies packed and ready to go; carefully planned outfits; the mystery of wondering who would be in my class; those sleepless nights filled with anticipation for my first day.
When I think about all of the children who went back to school this month, I can’t help but remember that education is a luxury so many boys and girls around the world don’t get to enjoy. Luckily there are people like Malala Yousafzai hard at work, who was just eleven years old when she became an advocate for female education in Pakistan. Now eighteen, Malala has become an international face of the fight for equal access to schooling; she has been named to Time Magazine’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” and, more impressively, shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with another advocate "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education" ( Nobelprice.org).
September is - in the United States - the perfect time to reflect on the joys of education and the people who fight to bring the wonders of learning to boys and girls worldwide. Some students can’t wait to see everyone on that first day, faces new and old, after a long summer apart. Others love team sports, learning a musical instrument, math, science, recess, art class, you name it. Personally, I loved books. I couldn’t wait to hand in my summer reading logs when school began (seriously!) and was even more anxious to find out what literature my teacher had selected for the coming months. There is so much to do at school, and with the whole year ahead of you, the possibilities seem to be on that first day (as they should every day) totally endless.
Malala’s work is so important; education is fundamental to our growth as learners, as athletes, as artists, as friends, and - perhaps most importantly - as productive citizens of the world. As students of all ages settle back into the routine of another academic year, let’s be sure to keep Malala and everything she (and we!) want for young people across the globe: the chance to go to school.