i am currently reading i am malala, malala yousafzai’s account of growing up in the swat valley of pakistan and her journey to becoming an advocate for girls’ education. in the book, malala mentions being part of a new york times documentary, class dismissed in swat valley. i was intrigued by the mention and decided to make it my march documentary — girls’ education has always been of particular interest to me, and i thought it would be interesting to see malala before she was shot by the taliban and became a nobel peace laureate.
originally produced in 2009 following the taliban’s forced closing of girls’ schools across the swat valley, class dismissed follows malala and her father ziauddin as they make sense of taliban rule and figure out what is next for their family and for their school. ziauddin was the founder and owner of the khushal girls’ school where malala and her friends studied, and after the enforced closing of the school, he and his family were forced to flee the swat valley to ensure their safety.
ziauddin had been a staunch advocate for girls’ education for many years, and he was one of the most outspoken men in the valley condemning the practices of the taliban. he kept his school open until the very last moment he could, and he passed his love of learning on to his daughter. intelligent and outspoken, malala became an advocate in her own right, and even at a young age she was being noticed by local politicians and visiting dignitaries alike. she is eloquent and adamant about her right to an education, and no one hearing her words could ever believe that girls should not have the same access and opportunities as boys.
at just over 30 minutes, class dismissed was a quick look at a heinous injustice that has been going on for far too long. it reminded me of why education for all is such an important human right, and i continue to be amazed at all malala has done in her short life.
if you are interested in watching class dismissed, you can stream it online for free here.
ps — i finally broke down and joined the sundancenow doc club to get access to tons of awesome documentaries. i’m on my 30-day free trial right now, so i’ll let you know my thoughts in a month.