15/07/2013 09:33 BST | Updated 10/09/2013 06:12 BST

Britain's Students Need to Learn From Malala

A new study revealed that school dropout rates in the UK are some of the worst in the developing world. Will the recent campaign by 16year old Malala make students in Britain think twice about taking their education for granted?

Malala Yousafzai is the Pakistani teenager and education activist who was shot in the head last October by a gunman. She was attacked for blogging about life under Taliban rule in the Swat Valley where they had banned girls from attending school. As Malala takes Ban Ki-moon's seat at the UN General Assembly, to promote universal education, there are currently 1.09 million young people who are not in education, employment or training out of choice in the UK.

Epictetus, a slave and philosopher, once said, "Only the educated are free." In countries ruled by dictators, education is either severely limited or non-existent. Our freedom to receive an education is a gift that many around the world do not have yet an international study shows more 15 to 19-year-olds in the UK are not in employment, education or training - per capita than most other developed nations.

There is compelling evidence that extending and improving education for girls has a huge impact on economic growth, yet, our schools still have drop outs and problems with attendance. Although it is easy to blame the government for the one-in-five pupils who currently leave school at 16 surely young people themselves should be recognising how detrimental to their prospects abandoning their education really is? In a society as sophisticated as ours how are there still people growing up ignorant to their luck in being born in a country with such brilliant opportunities. Do teachers need to stand in front of their classes each morning and remind their pupils of the 31 million girls of primary school age and 34 million girls of secondary school age that are getting no education worldwide to make us appreciate our own?

Students in the UK focus too much on whether school is enjoyable and entertaining rather than remembering that their education will be beneficial to their later lives. After a study estimated that 31 per cent of young people drop out of their studies critics of Britain's education system suggested "vocationally-oriented programmes of study may be more suitable for them." Should we not instead be looking towards emphasising the importance of education and motivating students rather than offering easy alternatives? An estimated £300 million of taxpayers' money is wasted each year paying for courses that sixth-formers fail to complete. It is astonishing that students are encouraged to give up a years' worth of studying when hundreds of students fight for their education daily.

Surely some of the obligation lies with our parents and their duty to inform us that some are willing to die so they can have homework as we complain about our workload. To remind their daughters that some people think girls are unworthy of an education, and more importantly, to urge them to become as educated as possible as we resent our right to learn.

Malala spoke about the threat of the Taliban on a Pakistani talk show, "Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right ... If a Talib is coming, I will pull off my sandal and slap him on the face." These words from a 16 year-old-girl put the hundreds of tardy teenagers who cannot bring themselves to get out of bed for school to shame.