THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION
I have an admission to make before we start. I absolutely hated school (despite that I didn't bunk off once which I think is quite impressive). My educational experience was awful. I was bullied, I had useless unsupportive teachers and worse, unsupportive parents. So yeah, my school years were the worst of my life.
You'd have thought that would have put me off education forever. but it hasn't. It has only made me realise how important education is. And a few years ago I took a course in music at the University of Sheffield. I made some wonderful friends, had an inspiring lecturer, and my experience couldn't have been more different. It was wonderful. So, thanks Adam White (BMus), if you read this!
So do I believe in a good education? Of course I do. Wholeheartedly.
What I can't understand is why some fundamentalists in the Middle East do not.
They seem to have this bigoted - not to mention sexist - view that the only thing women are good for are keeping home, doing chores and having kids (or as my mum so subtly puts it: "Being head cook and bottle-washer").
Now I'm not saying men in the West do not have these attitudes. They do. But when innocent women start dying for this principle then it becomes totally unacceptable.
First there is the appalling case of Malala Yousafzai. She was brutally and cruelly shot by the Taliban simply because she wanted to go to school with her friends and learn like any other teenager. Thankfully, she recovered from this horrific incident and has continued to speak up for woman going to school. Though it is unlikely she will ever be able to return to her home country of Pakistan.
Then there is the recent frightening incident of over two hundred Nigerian girls who were abducted from a school in the village of Chibok by a terrorist group called Boko Haram.
The literal meaning of Boko Haram is 'Fake Education is a sin'. Boko being an abbreviation of 'Llimin Boko', meaning Fake Education.
Boko Haram - as their name suggests - believe that the Western-style education of woman (of any age) is unacceptable.
Sadly most these girls are still missing, The Nigerian military has said they know their whereabouts, but refuse to make it public. This could be for several reasons: They have no idea where they are and are blatantly lying, or they DO know, and are terrified of retaliation from Boko Haram, either towards them or the girls. In fact President Goodluck Jonathan refuses to make any move to help the girls whatsoever. He thought the best way of helping them was to take a trip to France.
My question here is: why should these girls not have an education? Do they not have the right to learn and be valuable and productive members of the society they live in, like their male counterparts? Yes, of course they do, and they should.
So, how do we change this horrible sexist attitude? It will take a lot of time and a lot of persistence. But there is hope.
As long as women like Malala stand up and say "We have rights", then eventually things will be different.
I have realised (a little late in life perhaps) that I love journalism and dream of pursuing a career in it.
These women deserve to have the chance to chase their dreams too, whatever they may be. I wish them all the very best of luck.