London: Four girls in Lower Dir district of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province are following in the footsteps of 15-year-old education campaigner Malala Yousufzai - who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban - by defying the Taliban to receive proper education.
Malala was shot by the Taliban in the head and neck on October 9 while she was returning home from school. She was attacked for speaking up against the terror outfit and advocating girls' right to education. She is now recovering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, reports The Sun.
Saira, 13, the daughter of a poor farmer who relies on seasonal farming work to feed his family of 13, said her dream to study came alive when a charity called Khwendo Kor built a community school in 2002. The donations from the organization helped her cover her school expenses. Her books and stationery are also paid for by the charity.
"Before I started school I couldn't read or write. Now I'm learning new things every day. My favourite subject is English. I want to become a teacher when I graduate because I think teaching is a respectable profession. And I could educate other children in my community. That would be my dream," she said.
Another girl, 13-year-old Nazish said: "My mother is an uneducated housewife and my father is a labourer but, luckily, he approves of education for girls. So when we heard about a school that was being built near our home, he saw it as a great opportunity for me. Now I am in grade seven. My parents are so happy with my progress. My dream is to become a teacher in the school that gave me the chance of an education. I also want to work to promote education in my country. Malala has sacrificed so much to tell the world about us."
Salma, 12, said her parents have been her greatest role models along with Malala. She termed Malala "a brave and brilliant person".
Irum, 17, who lives in a small hut along with nine members of her family works as a teacher. She succeeded in receiving her education after her teachers persuaded her reluctant father to allow her to study.
"My education has only been possible because of the courage of my teachers who persuaded my parents to let me carry on with my studies. It also took courage for my parents to agree because girls in my country face many threats for attending school," she said.