First and foremost, the Umthombo iConnect team would like to wish you a happy Malala Day. For those who don’t know much about the day, here is a brief background. Malala Yousafzai (born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Yousafzai’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement. She was shot at 3 times by Talibans who later on refused an attempt to shoot her and that assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Today, its her Birthday and we say, Happy birthday Malala Yousafzai!

Now that you know Malala and the significance of the day, the question remains: is it really a ‘Happy’ Malala day? The education narrative hasn’t changed a bit. Few weeks back we were commemorating the International Day of the African child and we reflected on the Soweto uprising and the #FeesMustFall in South Africa. Lives were taken that day and better education systems promised to be put in place, sadly currently not so. Recently bumped into an article about a young lady who wrote on her experience with sexual harassment at the University of Zimbabwe Law Faculty. Need I mention the massive school shootings in the States? Malala was shot and same thing happened, education is still a debate on the table. According to set targets, it should be free by name, at least for primary schools and all. Boko Haram keeps kidnapping girls who should be in school. These are just examples of the current global education narrative, also notice how the girl child is caught up in almost all the above examples, sad really. Now all we have are smartphones and hashtags, are we failing to convert those into voices like the Soweto youth? Like Malala Yousafzai? Do we need to take to the streets again and protest, since protests are trending worldwide to capture attention?

But today we celebrate Malala, a symbol of bravery. Her work is quite remarkable. She’s achieved lots for her age and motivated a lot of people. Earlier when I engaged a friend who is currently a student at the National University of Science and Technology about the Malala Day, his first comment was, “we need people like her in our SRC honestly.” I have heard and read a number of her speeches and what resulted from them, impressive. Stand #WithMalala on #MalalaDay and beyond by visiting malala.org and taking action. Here, check out her Nobel Peace Prize Speech: