A successful journey of life often commences with attending school
everyday. While students in the Western world may view school as a tedious
task, millions of people in third world countries, particularly women and
girls, struggle with basic access to primary education.
In 2000, all nations agreed to the United Nations Millennium
Development Goals to make the world a better place. At that time, all 189 UN
member states (there are 193 currently) committed to attaining the goals of
universal primary education for all children.
The United Nations reports that enrolment rates for all children
in school had increased significantly from 83% in 2000 to 90% in 2011. The
number of children out of school declined by half from 102 million in 2000 to
57 million. Even Sub Saharan Africa has seen improvement in forwarding children
to educational institutions with the enrolment rate climbing from 60% to 77%
from 2000 to 2011. In North America enrolment rates remain consistently
high at 97%.
Against the backdrop of widespread support for universal primary
education, several Muslim terror organizations follow strict interpretations of Sharia, or
Islamic law, to forbid Western style education for girls. In October
2012, the Taliban shot Pakistani Malala Yousafzai in the head while she was on
the bus heading to school. Malala survived and became an inspiration for
millions of people worldwide in the fight for education to all. Her book I
am Malala became a bestseller and Malala was nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize in 2013. The Taliban’s goal to silence Malala backfired as she has
become a recognized activist promoting rights to education for women.
Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai stands by his daughter’s side
to promote education for all. He explained that, “ civil societies must
pressurize the government to change their laws. Your own voice is the most
powerful voice when it comes to your rights. Malala’s voice was like a
crescendo. It spread all over the world. She was the smallest, yet her voice was
Although countries around the world are making progress into
achieving primary education, the United Nations 2013 report noted that
enrolment rates for school-age children had declined in certain regions, which
means that the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education is
unlikely to be fulfilled by its 2015 deadline.
Organizations such as the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram are
partly responsible for undermining the goal of universal education for all
children. Boko Haram translates to “Western education is forbidden!” The
organization is determined to regress civilized society and they are using the
guise of religion to excuse themselves from crimes against humanity. Recently,
Boko Haram kidnapped 300 Nigerian schoolgirls, sold them as brides to militants
for 2000 naira ($12) and unleashed bombing attacks, killing more than 30, near
the village where the girls were kidnapped.
A new video not released publicly was filmed in a jungle after
more than a month of the girls kidnapping. The video, shot on May 19, revealed
that the children appeared to be healthy, except the pupils who have fallen
ill, and one with a broken wrist. In the clip, eight girls pleaded for release
as they stand in front of the camera. They are seen dressed in their home-made
school uniform with few saying, "my family will be so worried,"
"I never expected to suffer like this in my life," "They have
taken us away by force," and "we are not getting enough food." The
video has since been passed to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan for
The situation unfolding in Nigeria is appalling and
repugnant. Yet, underlying the tragedies of terrorism there seems to be
uncomfortable acquiescence for the notion that children, especially young
girls, should not be educated to understand the norms of our 21st Century
global society. FYOUTH urges you to break through the veils of
suppression imposed under certain cultures and religions and to pressure your
communities and governments to pursue actions that encourage universal primary
education for all children in the world.
By: Micha Salazar 17, Toronto, ON
Published Friday, May. 23 2014, 11:48 AM EDT
Updated Monday, June. 2 2014, 1:19 PM EDT