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Questions and Answers

What is a "ghost school"?

A ghost school is a building that no longer serves as an academic setting. In many cases, such schools have never admitted a single student. In Pakistan, influential leaders from remote regions often claim government grants to build or modernize schools. Once they have the cash in hand, many of them use the buildings as offices, storage facilities, stables, or hujras (meeting places for men). In a ghost school, students are "enrolled" only on paper. To allay suspicion, the teachers may continue drawing government salaries, despite the fact that the school only exists theoretically.

In what province is the Swat Valley situated?

The Swat Valley is situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly the North West Frontier Province).

What does "private Talibanization" mean?

In the book, the term references the targeting of private citizens who speak out against the Taliban regime. Ziauddin explained to Malala that the "new" Talibanization was for those who vocalized their objections to Taliban atrocities. In Chapter 19, Ziauddin appeared to be in danger after Zahid Khan, a fellow jirga committee member, was shot. Hidayatullah warned that the Taliban had been targeting each of the jirga members and that Ziauddin could be next. Meanwhile, Ziauddin noted that the militants had increased their attacks on private civilians.

Who are the "Children of the Rubbish Mountain"?

In the book, the Rubbish Mountain refers to an informal public dump, not far from Malala's home. The "Children of the Rubbish Mountain" are young boys and girls who rummage among the heaps of trash to salvage material they can potentially resell. These children belong to poverty-stricken families and cannot afford to attend school. To survive, they work as human scavengers to supplement their families' incomes. At Malala's insistence, Ziauddin gave away free places at the Khushal School to these children.

In the book, when was Malala most like a teenager, and when did her actions show that she was wise beyond her years?

Like most teenage girls, Malala worried about her looks. She loved wearing colorful clothes and believed in the efficacy of certain beauty products. Along with her friend Moniba, Malala also enjoyed popular music and Western movies. Malala's love for Justin Bieber, Twilight, the Shrek movies, and the Ugly Betty TV series made her a typical teenager. However, she was wise beyond her years in her understanding of politics and global affairs. Even after being shot by the Taliban, Malala continued to work on behalf of the world's children. Unperturbed by the likelihood of death, she patiently advocated for universal education as a weapon against ignorance and extremism. Malala's courage in the face of adversity demonstrated a wisdom beyond her years.

What did Malala learn about losing graciously?

In the book, Malala learned that it was just as important to lose graciously as it was to win heartily. In Chapter 5, Malala was devastated when Malka-e-Noor earned first place in the end-of-year exams. Later, however, she was much more philosophical when Moniba beat her at a public speaking competition in school. Malala came to realize that victory should always be earned; it is never promised. She also learned that writing her own speeches would add credibility and authenticity to her presentations.

What reservations does Malala have against the Pashtunwali code?

Malala believes that the Pashtunwali code focuses too much on badal (revenge). She fears that her fellow Pashtuns' obsession with preserving nang (honor) has rendered them insensible to the horrific violence they exact on others. In Pashtun culture, a wrong is never forgotten or forgiven. Like Ziauddin, Malala believes that the idea of revenge only perpetrates generational violence and that there is nothing to be gained from it.

How has Toor Pekai influenced her daughter?

Although largely in the background, Toor Pekai still remains a great influence on Malala. As a child, Malala noticed that her...

(The entire section is 1,212 words.)