Malala’s father: I dream of helping more school students in Pakistan

Girls' education

The father of education campaigner Malala Yousafzai has told how he dreams of returning to Pakistan one day to run his own school again.

Ziauddin Yousafzai confessed that he still struggles with having to leave his homeland in the wake of his daughter’s shooting by the Taliban in 2012.

He said he had realised his dream of setting up a school in Swat Valley, which grew from a handful of students to an enrollment of more than 1100. But – since moving to England with his family after Malala needed lifesaving surgery – his “realities had turned into dreams”. He added: “I am now struggling to turn my dreams back to my realities”.

Mr Yousafzai said he wants eventually to return to the area and to the school he opened in 1994, three years before Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala was born. He added: “That is the only hope we are living for. I will go back and we must go back.”

He spoke about his daughter and her campaign for girls’ education in a programme on BBC radio which is part of a series exploring the issues around family legacies.

Malala receives her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Mr Yousafzai was a campaigner in his own right long before Malala became the most famous schoolgirl in the world for surviving the Taliban attack and telling the first Youth Takeover of the United Nations in 2013 – organised by A World at School and their hundreds of global youth ambassadors – that “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” He had campaigned in Swat for education rights, as well as over the environment and democracy. Talking about resisting the “Talibanisation” of his community, he said: “We were demanding more schools and they were destroying the already existing schools. It was very difficult for me to keep silent.”

Mr Yousafzai dreamed of starting his own school. He explained: “It was very challenging in the beginning. I had three or four students and a very small building and I was the sweeper, the manager, the teacher, the director. I was everything.”

He also told the BBC programme about encouraging Malala to campaign for girls’ education. Asked if he felt guilty when she was shot, he said his wife Tor Pekai had persuaded him he had stood up for the right things and that the attack was not his fault.

He said he was speaking at a school association rally when he heard how Malala and her friends had been injured on their school bus. He told how  he saw her in a hospital casualty area and added: “She was lying on the bed and when I looked at her it was so difficult. I just kissed her on her forehead and her cheeks and I told her that you are my brave daughter, I am proud of you.”

More news

See all news