TEKS: 4.2B

Malala and the Magic Pencil

How one brave girl stood up for her right to education

Louise Kennerley/Fairfax Media via Getty Images 

Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan, in 1997. Her father, who founded a school, taught her that every person has a right to learn.

When an extremist religious group called the Taliban took control of Malala’s city, it banned girls from going to school. Malala spoke out against this policy.

In 2012, members of the Taliban attacked Malala. She was only 15 years old. She miraculously survived.

Malala refused to be silenced. In 2014, at age 17, she became the youngest person ever to  receive the Nobel Peace Prize. To this day, she still travels the world speaking and writing about the importance of education.

Mingora, 2004: Malala was an ordinary girl growing up in Pakistan. She liked to sleep in late . . .

. . . she liked to go to school . . .

. . . and she liked to play with her siblings and friends.

Malala noticed that some local children had to look for food instead of go to school. And many girls did not go, even if they could afford it. Families expected women and teen girls to stay home to cook, clean, and care for their relatives.

When she was young, Malala's favorite TV show was about a boy with a magic pencil.

Malala dreamed of having a magic pencil of her own. With it, she could fix everyone’s problems. She wrote a letter to God praying for one.

Mingora, 2006: The magic pencil never came. But a frightening change did.

The Taliban is an extreme political and religious group. In Mingora, it burned anything used for watching movies or listening to music. The group believes women should be covered from head to toe while outside their homes.

Mingora, 2009: Eventually, the Taliban banned all girls from going to school. Malala did not understand.

Malala kept going to school in secret, with her father’s help. But if the Taliban caught her or her classmates, they could be badly harmed.

Malala lifted her pencil. It was not magic. But it was still powerful. With it, she wrote about her life and how it had changed since the Taliban arrived.

Through her father’s connections, Malala was able to have her writings published online by a major news company. People around the world read Malala’s words. They supported her choice to continue going to school.

Malala gave interviews to news stations as well. She spoke up for her right to education. Moved by her words, people pressured the Taliban to reopen schools for some girls.

After speaking out, the Taliban attacked Malala. Still, she never stopped using her words to fight for education for all. Malala knew that ordinary pens and ordinary voices could have the same power as a magic pencil.

Malala’s mother nicknamed her Pisho. This means “cat” in Malala’s native language, Pashto. Pashto is spoken by about 13 percent of the people in Pakistan. Write the number 13 in expanded form.

Malala’s father founded the Khushal School in 1994. Malala started attending when she was only 4 years old. What is the value of the 4 in 1,994?

Many people in Pakistan like to play cricket, which is similar to baseball. The national team once beat Ireland by scoring 255 more runs! Write the number 255 in expanded form.

The show was called Shaka Laka Boom Boom. It had 491 total episodes. What is the value of the 4 in this number?

At the end of 2007, the Taliban swept through 59 villages and replaced the police with its own members. Its rules became law. Write the number 59 in expanded form.

Of the 1,576 schools in the region, the Taliban destroyed more than 400 during this time. Write the number 1,576 in expanded form.

Malala once had 27 girls in her school class. Now there were only 10. Write the difference in expanded form.

Malala posted a total of 24 times on her blog for the BBC, a news outlet. Write the number 24 in expanded form.

Today, more than seventy-two million children worldwide still do not attend school. Write that number in expanded form.

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