Monday, December 16, 2013

Big Ideas Fest spotlight: Malala Fund supports girls' education

I recently attended ISKME’s Big Ideas Fest in beautiful (cold) Half Moon Bay, California. Major kudos to the ISKME team for putting on a well-organized and enjoyable event! This was my first visit to the Big Ideas Fest, and it was a positive experience for me.

“BIF” brings a wide variety of teachers, students, policy makers and others together to discuss innovative ideas to issues in education. From those discussions, “projects” meant to find solutions to the challenges in education were brainstormed.  It’s a unique approach, and I will be interested to see how the work done is used moving forward.

The opening Keynote speaker was Shiza Shahid, who is the CEO and co-founder of The Malala Fund.  If you have not heard about it, Malala’s story is beyond remarkable.  In 2012, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl, was pulled off a school bus and shot by the Taliban because of her support for girls’ education. After the shooting, Shiza was side by side with Malala, who she has known well since 2009, as she recovered from being shot. As a result, Ms. Shahid became VERY involved in the issue of a girl’s right to education.  

Fast forward to today, and Ms. Shahid now runs the Malala Fund, which is engaged in providing funds to support girls'  education in impoverished nations.  Shiza gave an impassioned speech, and presented some stunning facts. One that really stood out: there are about 100 million children in the world with NO ACCESS to education; many, if not most, are adolescent girls.  That this is a problem that we (still) face seems almost seems unfathomable to me. Sadly, it is true. Clearly, girls have as much a right to education as boys, and anyone not educated (boy or girl) is really a ‘lost’ resource… 

The Malala Fund is, for one, fighting for schools in many impoverished (or otherwise anti-school) areas, and is working at a grass-roots level to effect change.  Ms. Shahid did a fantastic job illuminating this problem, and the opportunities. The Malala Fund looks to be one way to help change this situation.

Moments after her keynote speech, Shiza Shahid was given the 2013 ISKME Innovation in Action Award , which she graciously accepted. Great job, ISKME!

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