Read Malala’s special note to Assembly readers.
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4 July 2019 | Volume 2, Issue 1
  A note from Malala:
I was 11 years old when I first shared my story.

On a blog for the BBC, I wrote how the Taliban banned girls in my community from going to school. How the sound of machine guns would wake me up at night. How I missed having picnics in the green hills of Swat Valley.

I wrote something no one else could write: my experience.

I created Assembly as a space for girls like you to talk about your talents, your education, the challenges you face and your hopes for the future, just like I did. And based on the emails, DMs, comments and posts we receive from readers, I know how much you needed a platform like this.

Since we launched Assembly one year ago, our readership has expanded to reach more than 200 countries and territories. We’ve published work by girls and women from over 70 countries and many of our articles appear in multiple languages. This digital publication is for girls, by girls — it is a testament to the amazing potential of the next generation of female leaders. As we head into our second year, I am excited to see how Assembly continues to grow.

I know there is a girl reading this message today with an amazing story to share. We want to hear from you! Visit our submission form to send us your ideas or tell us what is on your mind.

I hope to see your name in our next issue.

Career spotlight
What needs to change in the Nigerian education system
Roll Call
  By Aramide Akintimehin
As a teacher in Nigeria, I see how my students are fighting to go to school — and I see how our education system is failing them.

I teach math, English and science for grade two in Ota, a largely low-income community in southwestern Nigeria. My students range from age 6 to 13 — some started school at a late age because their parents couldn’t afford their education until now. Often my students hawk on the streets after school to help fund their notebooks, textbooks and tuition fees. Many of them do not receive three square meals a day. These challenges increase absenteeism and dropout rates.

I work to change the status quo for my students. Sometimes I raise funds from family and friends to cover the school fees of my pupils or to purchase notebooks for my classroom. I use technology to engage my class and teach them basic digital literacy so that they can participate in the digitally driven world. I teach them skills valued in the 21st century job market — like creativity, public speaking, critical thinking and moral values — through puzzles, riddles, art projects, presentations and group work. I help them see what life is like for their peers around the world by connecting them electronically.

I work to change the status quo for my students, but there is only so much I can do when the Nigerian education system is so flawed. The issue is not only lack of funding (although that’s a big part of it!) but also lack of quality and standards. The system is just like a factory that is producing unfinished outputs. It produces individuals who know the concepts but cannot apply them. This is because there is too much emphasis on standardized testing rather than how to apply the knowledge practically. Most college and university graduates have to attend additional trainings after their degrees before they are finally fit to work. A quality education should create graduates who are prepared for the labor force, have the capabilities to solve problems and add value to their communities.

Read more.
Book giveaway 
Celebrate Assembly’s first year with a box of free books!
To celebrate the first year of Assembly, we’re offering you the opportunity to win five of our favourite recently published books. To enter, just fill out the form below with why you like reading Assembly. We’ll notify our winners via email over the next few weeks.

Around the world 
  What is the best advice you have ever received?

Heloisa “An ‘I'll do it tomorrow’ attitude only brings ‘I should've done it yesterday’ consequences.”
— Heloisa, 19, Mozambique
“Being happy is a decision you make every day and it's the key to personal freedom. I like to think of happiness as a choice because it has helped me feel in control of my life rather than being a pure product of my surroundings.”
— Anna, 17, Austria
Shifa “All opportunities have a limited window of time to grasp them.”
— Shifa, 18, India
“Someone who I consider to be very clever had once told me that our grades don't define who we are. I scowled at that at first because for many of us, school and university is all the life we've known so far. However, all grades do is measure how quickly and efficiently you learn and memorise things. They don't measure kindness, empathy, love or loyalty — some of the most important values out there, in my opinion.”
— Julia, 20, Luxembourg

Behind the lens
Striking photos show Afghan women climbing mountains and shattering norms
Afghan Athletics Afghanistan
By Shegufa Bayat
From the Hindu Kush to the Pamir Mountains, towering mountain ranges cover Afghanistan. Although the country’s rugged topography attracts climbers from around the world, few Afghan women scale these mountains. Ascend Athletics is working to change that.

Founded in 2014, the nonprofit builds young Afghan women’s leadership skills and confidence through athletic-based leadership training, particularly mountain climbing. Each year, they recruit a team of Afghan girls ages 15 to 24 for a rigorous two-year programme that involves fitness training, climbing, backcountry skills, civic engagement and mountaineering. The modules challenge participants both physically and mentally in order to build their resiliency, independence and confidence.

After participating in Ascend Athletics’ programme as a student at age 15, Shegufa Bayat now works at the organisation as a programme assistant and passes along her expertise to younger climbers. In the photo essay below, the 19-year-old shares more about the organisation’s work.
Ascend Atheletics Afghanistan
Posing for a photograph with my colleagues on our weekly hike (I’m in the middle!). The program assistants and I lead the weekly activities. International mountain guides and mountain leaders who visit Afghanistan provide us with skills training and we pass that on to the participants.
Ascend Atheletics Afghanistan
First-year participants embark on their first hike of the Ascend program. For many of the girls, this is their first time in the mountains. As girls doing any sort of exercise is often frowned upon and sometimes forbidden in Afghanistan, the new participants must begin to build muscles they have never used.
Ascend Atheletics Afghanistan
For many of Afghanistan’s young women, being able to leave the house for anything other than school is rare. Being part of the Ascend program allows the girls to not only climb mountains, but also build lifelong friendships. Pictured above is a first-year and second-year participant flying a kite together overlooking Kabul.
Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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