Meeting Malala – ARK Kings Academy students interview Malala Yousafzai on her new book

Students from ARK Kings Academy standing with the education campaigner Malala Yousafzai in a school library

Today, Tuesday 19th August, a new version of Malala Yousafzai’s book, I am Malala, has been published which has been written for young people. Two of our students, Makalia from Year 8 and Sufyan from Year 10, were given a unique opportunity to meet Malala earlier in the summer to talk about her reasons for writing the book – as well as comparing notes on life in Birmingham, preparing for exams, and annoying little brothers!

The day started with interview preparation at the BBC’s Mailbox offices where Makalia and Sufyan met students from Handsworth Wood Girls' Academy and Bartley Green School to prepare and practice questions. Then, after a quick lunch break, it was time to meet Malala and get in front of the cameras for the interview.

From Global Conflicts to Dealing with Little Brothers 

The students asked Malala questions about her role models, favourite books and what she thought about the current conflicts going on across the world. Makalia told Malala about her favourite book, A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson, which she likes because “it’s about a young woman breaking free from rules and regulations.” Malala also explained her reasons for writing the new book saying that she felt the adult version was quite complicated and that she wanted children to be able to understand and appreciate the importance of education.

The students went on to talk with Malala about life at school, and how she manages to balance studying for her GSCEs with all of her commitments outside of school. They also discussed food with Malala admitting that she finds English food boring – with the one exception being fish fingers! An area of common ground between many of them was the annoyance of little brothers with Malala declaring them to be “the most difficult thing in my life!”

Valuing Education

After the interview, Makalia said:

“I found the day very inspiring – and it was really fun because she was really fun to hang out with. She has made me even more determined to go to college and university because she talked about children, especially girls, in her country who don’t have the opportunity to go to university, college or even high school. I always valued my education but I think this sealed it for me. I was confident before but I feel more confident now because Malala had to have confidence in herself, to be brave and stand up for what she believed in.”

Sufyan said:

“The best part of the day was interviewing Malala and realising how normal she was. You wouldn’t expect that from someone who is on the news so much. For example, the way she talked about meeting famous people and said they’re just people. Today has taught me to remember how lucky I am to have an education.”

The interview was organised by the BBC as part of the annual School Report project which the students at ARK Kings Academy took part in earlier in the year -

Watch the interview online now

The interview with Malala was featured on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday 19th August. You can watch the full interview online over on the BBC News School Report website