Home / Global Connections Update / Fall 2015 VOL. 1, NO. 2



New Documentary on Teen Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Provides Inspirational Message and Lessons for Students

Students often say to themselves, “What can I do? I’m just a kid.” Malala Yousafzai, who turned 18 this July, proves that children and teenagers are capable of making great changes in their communities and beyond. The new documentary, He Named Me Malala, is the inspirational story of one girl’s passion for education and her courage to be heard.

Malala has been speaking out against the Taliban since she was 10 years old. Using a pseudonym, she wrote a blog for the BBC about life in Swat Valley, Pakistan. Members of the Taliban boarded her school bus as she was riding home one day and shot her in the head. They hoped to kill Malala, but what they actually did was cause her—and people from around the globe rallying behind her—to fight for educational equality even more.

Malala was only 15 years old when the Taliban attacked her and was flown to a hospital in England for emergency medical treatment. Since her recovery, she has written a book (I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban), won the Nobel Peace Prize, and created the nonprofit Malala Fund to support education equality around the world.

Now, award-winning director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) is bringing Malala’s story to the big screen. The documentary He Named Me Malala is a unique combination of interviews and news clips. Malala and her family, including her parents and younger brothers, open up their new home in Britain to the filmmakers and allow viewers to see what Malala’s life is like now—science homework included. The film also includes segments from different news programs that covered her attack, recovery, and subsequent role as spokesperson for education equality.

Documentary Film as a Teaching Tool in the Classroom

He Named Me Malala is an inspirational story on its own, but to drive Malala’s message home even more, high school teachers and college professors can use the documentary as a springboard for classroom discussions and assignments.

  • The Curriculum Guide for high school includes 10 lesson plans and can be used both before and after watching the film. Lessons cover a variety of topics, from the history of Pakistan to international issues like education, health, and economic development in poorer countries. The Curriculum Guide can be downloaded for free here.
  • The Discussion Guide for college courses and seminars provides the opportunity for students to continue Malala’s work: to learn about the status of girls’ education in the world today, to discuss what they have read about girls’ education, to explore resources to learn more, and to seek ways to make a change in their own community and in the wider world. The Discussion Guide can be downloaded for free here.

Malala is perhaps the most well-known young woman speaking out against global injustices. However, there are many young people—boys and girls alike—who are working to make the world a better place. To tie in with the release of He Named Me Malala, profiles of other inspiring young people from around the globe will be featured on different social media channels including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.