Forget the Taliban – it’s teachers who scare Malala

She stood up to the Taliban. She stared down the barrel of a would-be assassin’s gun. She was shot in the head, and recovered to campaign for girls’ education across the globe.

But what really terrifies Malala Yousafzai? Teachers.

“My father was a teacher, and he inspired me,” the 18-year-old said. “I think your parents can be your teachers as well. But also I love all my teachers here in the UK, and also all my teachers in Pakistan.” Then she paused. “I kind of – I’m scared of teachers as well.”

Malala was speaking to Emma Watson – best known as Hermione in the Harry Potter films – as part of the Into Film festival this week. The question-and-answer session was broadcast into cinemas around the country, following a schools-only screening of He Named Me Malala, a new documentary film about her life.

Watch the full discussion here:

During the session, Watson posed questions asked by pupils around the country. Some asked about Malala’s work as a campaigner for girls’ education. Others, however, wanted to find out about her life as a teenager at school in the Midlands. “Are you enjoying school and education in Birmingham?” one asked.

“There’s a lot to do, now that I’m doing my A-levels,” Malala said. “It’s a lot of change, from GCSE to A-levels.”

One question came from a teacher: Miss Skinner, from Cardiff. “What would you say to young people who don’t like, appreciate or enjoy school?” she asked.

Malala joked about her brothers preferring their Xbox to their homework. But then she became more serious. “When I was 11, I was stopped from going to school,” she said. “I woke up, and I couldn’t go to school any more. I could not believe that, in my life, I would not be able to study any more…

“I don’t want you to go through that situation, ever. Just believe in yourself and believe in the power of education.”

Fifteen-year-old Argtim Ibisi, from Skinners’ Academy in East London, did not realise that his question had been selected until Ms Watson read it out. He had asked how Malala’s two younger brothers felt about her success.

“It felt exhilarating,” he said of the moment when his name and question were read out. “There’s a point when your heart rate starts to go up.”

He and his Year 10 classmates were taken to the screening by their RE teacher, Udo Oleforo.

“Seeing someone who is of a similar age to them, going out and fighting for justice – I hope it does inspire them, especially the girls, to go forth and grab the things they want,” Ms Oleforo said.

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