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He Named Me Malala - Curriculum Guide

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When 11-year-old blogger Malala Yousafzai began detailing her experiences in the Swat Valley of Pakistan for the BBC, she had no idea what momentous changes were coming in her life. Her father, Ziauddin, a school founder and dedicated teacher, was outspoken in his belief that girls, including his beloved daughter, had a right to an education. As they continued to speak out against restrictions imposed by extremists, Ziauddin received constant death threats, so many that he began to sleep in different places. But it was Malala who was almost killed, shot in the head by a gunman on her way home from school. Her survival and recovery have been little short of miraculous.

Through her speeches, her autobiography I Am Malala, the work of her fund, and her travels to places where girls’ education is in crisis, she has continued to focus on the effort to give all girls safe schools, qualified teachers, and the materials they need to learn. The film He Named Me Malala both celebrates her dedication to this cause and gives the viewer insight into her motivation. Her efforts are ongoing and they are realized through her organization, the Malala Fund, which “empowers girls through quality secondary education to achieve their potential and inspire positive change in their communities.”

Visit Malala Fund to follow Malala’s continuing work and current educational campaigns.


He Named Me Malala is an excellent film to share with classes in English language arts, world history, and other social studies classes. Lessons included in this guide are meant to be used both before and after showing the film, to give students context, to interpret the film, and to examine the issues that Malala Yousafzai cares so passionately about. This film and the subject of gender equity in education is not intended only for girls. Research shows that girls are far more likely to sympathize with a male protagonist (think Harry Potter!) than boys are with a female protagonist. It is important to help the boys in your class, some of whom may also be struggling to continue their education, to understand that fostering girls’ education and protecting girls from violence should be, for many reasons, a primary male concern as well.  This curriculum aims to reach beyond understanding the documentary film and the extraordinary life and goals of Malala Yousafzai to ensure we cultivate tools to advocate for human rights around the globe.


  • Introduction to Teaching the He Named Me Malala curriculum.
  • Lesson 1: Introducing Pakistan (Social Studies, Geography, World History)
  • Lesson 2: The Story of Malala: Growing Up (English Language Arts, Social Studies)
  • Lesson 3: The Story of Malala: The Attack by the Taliban (English Language Arts, Social Studies)
  • Lesson 4: The Story of Malala: A New Life of Global Advocacy (English Language Arts, Social Studies)
  • Lesson 5: Working for Change (Social Studies/Community Service)
  • Lesson 6: Global Violence Against Women and Girls (Social Studies/Sociology)
  • Lesson 7: ‘Let this end with us’: Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize Address (English Language Arts, Social Studies, Speech/Communication)
  • Lesson 8: The United Nations and the Rights of Women and Children (Social Studies)
  • Lesson 9: Women’s Education, Health, and Economic Development (Social Studies/Health/Economics)
  • Lesson 10: Telling a Story Through Film (Film Literacy)
Authors: Jack Burton, Ryan Chamberlain, Marybeth Duckett Ireland, Anne Engles Kathryn Fitzgerald, Mary Anne Kovacs, Marty Kushner, Eileen Mattingly, Matt McCormick




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