Nobel Committee: Children + Education = Peace

The announcement of the shared Nobel Prize for Peace should resonate with all of us who believe that children are our future – our hope for tomorrow. While tensions between India and Pakistan are well known, and tensions between Muslims and Hindus are historic, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, in its wisdom, recognized the commonality between its 2014 Nobel Laureates for Peace: a 60-year-old Hindu man from India and a 17-year-old Muslim girl from Pakistan. [See, Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee announces winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Peace.]

Kalash Satyarthi, of India, has devoted himself to ending child labor through peaceful efforts since 1980, when he left his work as an electrical engineer to form his organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan. In the ensuing years, the number of child laborers has reduced worldwide by nearly 80 million, but he is restless to do more. [See Kailash Satyarthi: The Tireless, Unlikely and Accessible Nobel Peace Prize Winner by Ben Doherty, The Guardian, 12.Oct.2014.] In the announcement, Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, made a point of stating, “Children must go to school – not be exploited.”

And this brings us to the other winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Peace. The youngest person to ever receive the distinction is 17-year-old Malala Yousafzay, of Pakistan. Malala just wanted to go to school, but she nearly paid with her life at the hands of the Taliban for making her desire public, and had to flee her country and undergo surgery to repair the damage made by a bullet to her brain. [See The 72 Hours that Saved Malala: Doctors Reveal for the First Time How Close She Came to Death by Nick Schifrin, ABC News via Good Morning America, 07.Oct.2013.] In preparation for Malala Day at the United Nations in July 2013, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote, ” In far too many places, students like Malala and their teachers are threatened, assaulted, even killed…. Through hate-filled actions, extremists have shown what frightens them the most: a girl with a book.” [See A Girl With a Book’ – Malala’s Day at the United Nations by Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, Opinion Pages: Dot Earth,12.Jul.2013.]

The MurthyNAYAK Foundation also works to protect and advocate for the vulnerable in our society. We recognize that children are seldom able to speak out, and if they do, they are rarely heard. The attack on Malala earned her the right to be heard, and now more around the globe will listen to her passionate pleas to educate the daughters of the world. Mr. Satyarthi’s decades of work on behalf of children removes them from dangerous, exploitive labors and returns them to the classroom, and to childhood. The Nobel Committee recognizes that education for all children is critical in order for there to be understanding and, ultimately, peace.

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