‘In many parts of the world… terrorism, wars and conflicts stop children going to their schools’
“Honourable Secretary General, peace is necessary for education. In many parts of the world… terrorism, wars and conflicts stop children going to their schools. We are really tired of these wars.”
These words were uttered by Malala Yousafzai, on her sixteenth birthday, in July 2013 in an address to the United Nations Youth Assembly. Remarkably, only nine months before she had been shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when he boarded her school bus. Yousafzai survived the attack following intensive surgery in her native Pakistan and the UK and her words are both powerful and inspiring for all educators and leaders, especially at this time of year.
With the poppies appearing on lapels, we naturally begin to remember and our minds are filled with images of soldiers who have lost their lives standing up for the values in which they believed. One hundred years on from the end of the Great War, there is of course a natural focus on that conflict, not least because of the relevance of the poppy to the fields of northern France and Belgium.
And we will not forget the suffering that society went through in the last century but Yousafzai’s words are a poignant reminder that conflicts continue and that by wearing the poppy, we are also honouring those who have given their lives in this century too; those who fight to ensure that children around the world can grow up in more peaceful environments where prejudice is rejected and education is provided. Thinking about war is not easy but it is important in order to avoid conflict in the future. Although our Chapel is often full, I do hope parents will join us for our Remembrance Day Service next Thursday.