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Nobel Peace Prize winner inspires Harrow High School students during ‘Malala Day’ visit

On 10th July 2024, Harrow High School welcomed Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and international education activist, for ‘Malala Day.’

This year, Malala Day focused on the plight of girls in Afghanistan, who are currently banned from receiving an education.

Malala began her activism at age 11, anonymously blogging about life under the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, particularly the ban on girls’ secondary education. She soon began advocating publicly, giving speeches and interviews, and gaining international media attention and awards.

Nobel Peace Prize winner inspires Harrow High School students during 'Malala Day' visit Harrow Online
Image: Harrow High School

In October 2012, at age 15, Malala survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban while traveling on a bus to school. She was treated in a hospital in Birmingham, England, where she recovered and became more determined to advocate for girls’ education. She continued her campaign and, as co-founder of the Malala Fund, is building a global movement supporting girls’ education.

Harrow High School has a diverse student body, including many students of Afghan heritage, some of whom fled the country during the recent Taliban takeover in August 2021.

During her visit, Malala observed various lessons, participated in discussions with students, and addressed the school via a virtual assembly. She was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, kindness, and hard work, as well as the quality of their work in lessons.

As a passionate advocate for education, Malala spoke to learners across the entire school about the importance of girls and women’s rights, especially in accessing education, which is being denied to girls in some parts of the world. Before the Taliban’s return to power three years ago “one in three women there were enrolled in university in Afghanistan”,

Malala said. “But today it is the only country in the world where women and girls are banned from pursuing an education.”

Malala called for joining forces to build a world where all children have access to 12 years of quality education.

Students at the school were moved by Malala’s message and wrote letters of support and solidarity to girls who are denied the same opportunities that they have.

Sally, aged 12, said “I couldn’t wait to meet Malala, as it was a whole new experience for me and a great way for our school to show our support for the girls denied an education. Hearing and reading about Malala and her bravery has made me even more inspired by her.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner inspires Harrow High School students during 'Malala Day' visit Harrow Online
Image: Harrow High School

Mohamed, aged 17, said “Every child deserves an education to enable them to aspire and excel in life and they can only achieve this if they get a chance or opportunity to go to school. I feel that it’s unfair and wrong that just because you are a girl that you should lose out on an education. It makes it next to impossible for them to fulfill their potential and become what they want to be in the future”.

“Being involved in something like this today has made me realise how lucky I am to go to school. It has inspired me to come to school everyday and to use my opportunity to learn”, said Muska (age 14).

Headteacher Paul Gamble said: “We were thrilled to welcome Malala to Harrow High School. It was a privilege to see Malala talking to the children about her life and advocacy for girls’ education. Our students were articulate and made insightful contributions during their discussions with Malala. Many had clearly researched the issue and felt passionate about it. It was so good to see them demonstrate their solidarity with girls in Afghanistan through the encouraging letters they wrote.”

To end her visit Malala and a group of our Year 9 Art students completed a ‘beautiful and inspiring mural’ in the school hall which was painted by Kabir Mokamel of Art Lords. This same mural was also painted in a village in Afghanistan to give hope to the young girls there.

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