Schoolchildren up and down Britain are still struggling to come to terms with the acclaim accorded to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani school pupil and activist blogger who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2011 for campaigning for girls’ education rights. They have unanimously agreed that her conduct is ‘well rank’ and that she should have been grateful not to have to sit through double Maths every Tuesday morning.
Malala’s courage and determination has earned her acclaim all over the world. Since her miraculous survival, she has been instrumental in the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill, was named one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ and was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize among many other things. However, British teenagers have dismissed all this as ‘totally gay’.
‘So let me, like, get this right, she got nearly killed for doing a blog about wanting girls to actually GO to school,’ said Destiny Williamson, a Year 10 student at Alderman Bagnall Comprehensive in Mansfield. ‘I’d let anyone shoot me in the head if it meant not having to watch Mr Lewis’s eczema flaking off into the beakers in Chemistry. “One teacher and one pen can change the world” – what the fuck is she on about? What even is a pen?’
Cultural analysts are more sympathetic, given the vastly different conditions in the Swat Valley, where Malala grew up, to Britain. ‘We have to recognise that this is a backward region,’ said Professor Brian Curtis of Sheffield University’s Institution of Education. ‘There are very few iPods or TVs and as yet no X-Factor. Until they develop a more advanced civilisation, low grade clerical work based on school education is probably the most that children there can hope for.’
Malala’s UK peers grudgingly recognise that Malala has become famous but otherwise they remain unimpressed. Said Williamson: ‘She was born on 19 July 1997. Do the maths – all right, just joking, but that speccy retard Keith Miller-Jones in 10 MJ did it for me in return for a quick feel and apparently that means she’s legal. I reckon it’s all because she’s not that fit and she’s well jel of us.’
Ironically, though, Malala’s prospects for approval among her peers have taken a sudden turn for the better. In Hollywood, Universal Studios has greenlighted a new feature film based on her life. It will star Daniel Craig as her father, Meryl Streep as the lovably eccentric teacher who inspires her and Danny Dyer as the villainous upper class head of the Taliban.