Malala Yousafzai, a sixteen-year-old Pakistani student made headlines when she was injured by the Taliban for pursuing her studies. She has since grown increasingly vocal in her fight for female education in Pakistan, and universal access to learning for children worldwide.
This month, a young, clear voice reminds us of the global need for education. Recent years have brought incredible educational progress in many areas of the world. Teachers, supplies, and funding have been dedicated to building more schools. More children, women, and students in developing countries are provided with ways to learn. Not only are there more formal schools; recent years have also brought online universities and lectures, and, most recently, MOOCs. But access to learning remains far from universal.
Last week, Malala Yousafzai marked her 16th birthday with a powerful speech that addressed everyone: from her native Pakistanis to us at iversity in Germany. At the U.N.’s Youth Assembly, Malala, who was shot in the head on her way home from school by Taliban, demanded female education in Pakistan, and for all children worldwide. With 57 million children out of school in 2011, according to UNESCO and Save the Children data, 3 million gained educational access in the past three years. But the numbers of students out of class remain staggering, energizing iversity to produce MOOCs that reach the masses.
MOOCs are not an answer for every educational shortcoming. In developing countries and areas of conflict, many lack internet access, and women may be restricted from using computers at internet cafes. But MOOCs expand higher education, widening access and eliminating costs. They do not discriminate based on age, location, or gender, providing all with the opportunity to learn and to grow. Consider how MOOCs offer Pakistani girls access to top faculty and high-quality courses. Malala’s words push for universal education, a revolution that MOOCs ensure will include those in conflict zones.