There are several hadeeth said by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about compulsory education but despite that, there are differences of opinion among the Ulema about the role of women in Islam.
Listening to some Ulema, you are left with a conviction that the role of women is confined only between the kitchen and the bedroom. This can easily be construed to mean that a Muslim woman has to learn about how to perform her religious rituals only.
In contrast, listening to another section of the Ulema, you get the impression that women have a wider role to play in society. This would then require attainment of adequate academic and professional qualifications in addition to her religious knowledge in order to fulfil this greater role.
It is the former school of thought, combined with the power of a bullet, that has propelled a Muslim 16 year old girl Malala Yousafzai into an instant stardom.
If you are an educationist and you have not heard about Malala Yousafzai, you may need to spare some few minutes and do some research on her. Malala is a claimed in champion in girl child education rights throughout the Muslim world.
According to Wikipedia, Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. She had been pursued because of her strong criticism of the Taliban through her blog on BBC and posts on her Facebook wall.
According to Wikipedia, the assassination attempt received worldwide media coverage and produced an outpouring of sympathy and anger. Protests against the shooting were held in several Pakistani cities the day after the attack, and over 2 million people signed the Right to Education campaign’s petition, which led to ratification of the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan.
She has travelled far and wide, from Japan to USA, from Britain to Germany, delivering speeches at top universities in the world, delivering her message on the importance of girl education.
Of course, the Western world may have their own political motives for promoting Malala. One would not be surprised to find Malala ruling Pakistan when she grows up. But one striking thing, is that Malala is campaining for free access to education for the girl child.
Fortunately, there are several Muslim organisations that are championing the Muslim girl child education in Malawi. We have organisations like Munazzamat Dawa al-Islamia, Al-Barakah Charity Trust, Islamic Zakaat Fund and Direct Aid among others. The Muslim girl child in Malawi has been the most maginalised as far as education is concerned.
Cases of high rate of school drop out, early marriages, early pregnances are quite rampant despite the initiatives of the government and various NGOs. Muslim organisations have opened schools and are offering burseries to the underpriviledged Muslim girls to complete their secondary and even university education.
Unfortunately, the initiatives are not enough to absorb the high number of the girls seeking their support and the few girls that were fortunate enough to be enrolled, are facing unprecedented challenges that makes a mockery of the intentions of the organisations themselves.
Cases of indiscipline and laziness in class among students are high in most girls schools.
There are also incidences of poor management and high teacher turnover in these schools which makes it the situation unfavourable for achieving the schools’ objectives.
Muslim girls in Malawi should for once listen to Malala. Your destiny is in your hands and you have to make sure that no obstacle should hinder you to succeed in your education; be it political, social or economical. It is sad to see a Muslim girl being chased from school due to indiscipline yet she was supposed to be exemplary in all etiquatte of life.