Senior Associate John Ritter commends the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) for inviting Ziauddin Yousafzai to be one of its keynote speakers at its 27th annual conference this March 15-17th. The conference, whose theme was "Empowering Learners," was held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Prague, with 400 delegates largely from member schools throughout the region, from Latvia to Turkey to Uzbekistan.
Ziauddin, a long-time educator and activist in Pakistan, said early in his keynote, “Empowering Learners for a Brighter Future,” that he is often asked why his daughter is so strong. His answer: "Because I did not clip her wings." Ziauddin’s daughter Malala survived a shot in the head by a Taliban gunman six years ago. Twelve years old at the time, and already an activist, Malala was encouraged by her father to resist the Taliban ban on girls attending school. She survived, co-authored the international bestseller I am Malala, became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and continues as an activist for girls’ education. Ziauddin spoke with evident pride that his child has been far more influential than he has as an activist. This is what he has sought for all of his children. John commented,
“As the conference progressed, the need to take risks became a sub-theme for empowering learners. Of course, ‘Risk Taker’ is one of the ten attributes in the IB Learner Profile, so widely admired and adopted by international schools.”
As an example of international school risk-taking, Arnie Bieber, Director of the International School of Prague, referred to letting a six-year-old girl hold her own nail while learning to hammer. Though educational risks for Malala and her father had much higher stakes, choices we make as teachers and administrators give us opportunities to take the risks necessary to empower learners to be great leaders. How are we allowing our staff and our children to fly?