“Muslim Girls Denied Education Rights"
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000
Doris Mataya and her husband Joe are retired Village Missionaries and are alumni of Multnomah Bible College in Portland, OR. After retirement, they started a small church. Still a pastor's wife, she is and has been teaching Scripture to all ages for about 60 years. She has been writing a weekly column for the Roseburg Beacon for over six years. As of 2013 the paper goes by subscription into all 50 states and Guam. She has been published in many magazines and has two books published: "Current Issues in the Light of Scripture" and "Shasta Daisy," a picture book for children about a little girl and her filly growing up together in the 1940's. Doris and her husband have four grown children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
© Reprinted with permission. The Roseburg Beacon; Roseburg, OR
What kind of a school did you attend when you were a child? Was it a one-room school house or a school of hundreds or maybe thousands? During my first five grades I went to three different one-room school houses: North Cow Creek School, Ingot School and Bella Vista School. At the time I didn't know how blessed I was, being able to attend school. There are millions of children around the world who are not going to school.
I'm sure you've heard about the brave Pakistani teenage young lady who was shot at pointblank range by the Taliban October 9, 2012. She was speaking out for girls' rights to go to school. At the tender age of 11 she wrote a blog for BBC and shared her hopeless condition living under Taliban rule. In a few short years she became an education and women's rights activist in the Swat Valley where the Taliban is against girls going to school. They couldn't allow her to continue, so they shot her at pointblank range in the head!
She lived, but was in a coma for days. She was taken to the United Kingdom where, with intensive rehabilitation, she recovered. Now Malala Yousafzai is more famous than before the shooting.
She gave a speech at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York on her 16th birthday, July 12, 2013. She spoke to young leaders from 100 countries. Among other things, she said: "Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand. ... one girl among many. I speak - not for myself, but for all the girls and boys. I raise my voice - not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights: their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.
Dear friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And then, out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.
"Further on in her speech she said: "We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, in the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw guns. The wise saying ‘The pen is mightier than the sword' was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. And that is why they killed 14 innocent medical students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they killed many female teachers and polio workers in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa and FATA. That is why they are blasting schools every day. Because they were and are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring into society.
"Assaults on education are not limited to Pakistan; it is widespread. On July 6, 2013, at a boarding school in northeast Nigeria, Islamists shot and killed 42 people-including 29 students and one teacher. This was one of three such school killing sprees since May, when the military began cracking down on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Their nickname in the northern Hausa language means "Western education is sinful."
Malala at 16 years of age has wisdom beyond her years. I do not know how she was raised or if she has read or been taught the Scriptures, but as I listened to her speech, I realized she spoke of truths we read of in the book of Proverbs. (I wonder, did she have a speech writer?) Proverbs 4:5-7 reads: "Get wisdom, get understanding, forget it not ... Forsake her not and she shall preserve thee; love her and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding."
We go to school to gain knowledge. Wisdom is how we use our knowledge. The Scriptures were written for all of mankind. The thirst for knowledge is God-given and Scripture commands us to search for wisdom. Whether or not she knows it, Malala is obeying God in seeking an education for herself and others. Proverbs 1:7 reads: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ..." Fear here doesn't mean to be afraid, but to be in awe of God. The notes on this verse in the MacArthur Study Bible explain this very well.
Our founders knew how vital it is to educate children. In 1647 the first public education law in America was passed. It was called "The Old Deluder Satan Act." Why such a name? The pilgrims had come out of the atrocities of Europe where the majority of people were illiterate. They realized that if people in the old country could have read the Bible for themselves the atrocities of the last few centuries probably would not have happened. Knowledge of Scripture molds and changes the social order of countries for good. Scripture had molded and shaped the hearts of our Puritan forbearers-they wanted all children to learn to read the Bible, as well as other books.
Malala stressed the necessity of education for all the world's children. If you learned to read as a young child, you are truly blessed!
Published in The Roseburg Beacon, July 17, 2013 (Roseburg, OR)
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