Unlike the rest of the world where it was fervently celebrated, the first anniversary of the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the child-education activist who spoke against destruction of schools in Swat, went quietly in her hometown. The Khushal School and College, where Malala got her early education, remained sadly closed for security reasons.
The silver lining in a solemn Swat district is that enrolment in the girls’ education institutes throughout the valley has substantially increased – a fact which seems like fulfilment of Malala’s dream.
“We have 14,022 new admissions in the girls’ schools just this year, while a total 30,000 enrolments have been recorded since we returned to Swat after normalcy,” disclosed Dilshad Begam, a female officer in the district education department.
“Irrespective of regional boundaries, people today want education, and the proof that came out loudly was that the world raised voice together for Malala as she raised hers for uplift of education. And now she is the strongest candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Azmat Ali, a social activist in Mingora told The Express Tribune.
According to analysts, even the anti-Malala campaign, which has deep roots in the valley, has borne a positive fruit.
“A change of mindset is being observed as more and more girls want to express their abilities on higher platforms to prove that Malala was not the only brilliant and outstanding girl on the Pakhtoon soil,” Gulalai Rahim, a graduate student in Mingora, said. Where many think ill of Malala and consider her an agent of the West, there are many others who miss her in Swat valley.
“We, her friends, feel proud that we have had the company of such a bright icon who attained international fame,” Noorul Kainat, her former classmate said to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2013.