She may not be a musician, actor or sports person but Malala Yousafzai was given a hero’s welcome when she visited Burntisland on Saturday.
The 16-year-old Pakistani world-renowned campaigner, the victim of a Taliban assassination attempt last October, was in town to take part in the topping-out ceremony at the new Burntisland Primary School.
Invited by MP Gordon Brown, in his role as United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Malala told a captivated crowd of over 200 people, who braved the rain, she wanted to see more schools opening around the world.
Although the school is a long way off being finished Malala praised Fife’s commitment to education and said the Kingdom with its rolling hills reminded her of where her family came from in a mountainous area in Pakistan.
“I loved seeing a school with a hill in the background,” she told the Press.
“I hope it becomes a school where children will enjoy learning in the Malala library.
“I opened a library in Birmingham where I now stay, but I have never opened a school before and this is what I want to see happen round the world – more new schools opening.”
Malala’s decision to visit Fife was something of a coup with her only other Scottish engagement in Edinburgh earlier in the day where she was reunited with her former fellow school friends Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan - also injured in the attack last year.
Whilst in Fife Malala, who was joined by her father Ziauddin, spoke of her love for education and said that while the school was a combination of walls and floors, it was going to be a living community dedicated to the future of children.
As she applied the final piece of concrete to a lintel block to be placed in the new primary school’s library she spoke to the audience, made up of pupils and parents, who had gave her a standing ovation as she entered the room.
She told them of her hopes for the library, which will carry her name, saying there would be no discrimination and people would learn about respect and justice.
All three girls were then presented with a tartan head scarf, the tartan chosen being the World Peace Tartan, and a desk each donated from McIntosh Furniture Company.
The desk is modelled on the desk Malala vacated in her school in Pakistan and all Fife schools will each receive one specially inscribed with her signature on it.
“This was a great day for Burntisland, Fife, and for education,” Gordon Brown said afterwards. “It will be remembered as one of our most successful international events bringing together local children and a great global cause.
“The number of local parents who turned out was huge and surpassed expectations.”