Kainat and Shazia: Why A World at School and our teachers are so important

Girls' education

Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan are both Global Youth Ambassadors for A World at School – and both agree there is nothing more powerful than books and words.

The girls, who survived an armed Taliban assault in Pakistan in 2012, have promised they will do two things to change the world during their time at school in the United Kingdom. They will try to become doctors and they will fight for girls’ education.

Kainat and Shazia were both injured in the same bus attack as their close friend Malala Yousafzai but the experience and the aftermath has made them determined to speak up for education, particularly girls’ education. The pair are now students at Atlantic College in Wales, where there are 90 nationalities represented, and they recently joined A World at School’s team for the launch of our Up For School Petition in London.

Before joining Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and Gordon Brown on stage at the South Bank Centre, they agreed to become guest editors of the AWAS website and tell our website what they thought was crucial in trying to achieve universal education for all.

Kainat and Shazia with other friends of Malala in Oslo

Shazia said: “You start with one person. If we can change the mindset of that one person, they can change the mindset of another person, maybe even in the same family, then others. Eventually you can change the world but there are so many barriers and issues such as racism.

“A World at School is so important. We enjoy reading girls’  blogs from other countries and we love reading about inspirational teachers.”

And do they have one or more teachers at their college who they think are inspirational?

“Oh yes,” Kainat said: “Colin Brown and Adrian Rainbow are fantastic teachers. Colin inspires us every day. The school is an amazing place. It is so exciting to learn about other cultures.”

Kainat recently told a newspaper: “I really want to become a gynaecologist because in our society there are lots of male doctors but not female doctors and in our religion the women can’t show their bodies to men.

Kainat and Shazia with their friend Malala

“But I also want to join other charity groups, especially focusing on girls’ and boys’ education. For me, education is like light – without light you can’t see anything.”

“I think, if we speak up, then other people will follow us,” added Shazia. “They will think: Look, they went out of the country but still they’re getting an education. Still, they’re going to be doctors. They’re still doing their job.”

Both Kainat and Shazia have had a whirlwind month. They went to Oslo to see their friend Malala collect her shared Nobel prize with Kailash, before they returned to the Swat Valley in Pakistan to see family. They returned to Wales just two weeks ago to restart their studies.

Kainat added: “Sometimes we miss our home but we have cool friends here and we speak to Malala on the telephone regularly.”

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