Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, returned to the classroom Tuesday after months recovering from her wounds. The 15-year-old education activist started as a ninth-year student at Edgbaston High School, a girls’ school in Birmingham, England.
Malala released a statement to Time stating that she was extremely glad to be safe and back in school.
“I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school,” she said. "I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity. I miss my classmates from Pakistan very much but I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and making new friends here in Birmingham.”
Reuters notes that teachers are reportedly extremely happy to have the young heroine in their classrooms.
"She wants to be a normal teenage girl and to have the support of other girls around," Edgbaston headteacher Ruth Weeks told Reuters. "Talking to her, I know that's something she missed during her time in hospital."
The young advocate for girls' education became a worldwide symbol in October when she was shot by Taliban militants on her way home from school. According to BBC News, four gunmen stormed the school bus she was on and opened fire. Three other girls also were wounded.
Shortly after the shooting, Malala was flown to England for specialized treatment. In January, the Guardian reported that she was set to have a custom-made titanium plate fitted as a replacement for a missing part of her skull as well as a cochlear implant for her hearing.
In February, Malala was declared well enough to speak to the public thanks to her recovery.
"Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak. I can see you. I can see everyone,” she said. “I am getting better day by day. It's just because of the prayers of the people."
Malala is from the Swat valley, which was taken over by the Pakistani Taliban in 2009. The Taliban shut down all girls’ schools in areas under their control, leaving her without a reliable source of education. Though the Taliban was later forced out by the Pakistani military, Malala did not let things end there.
She began blogging for BBC News, providing insights into life under the extremists' rule. In 2011, she was awarded Pakistan's first peace prize. The attack served as proof that the Taliban is still a threat to Swat. Last month, her father Ziauddin was appointed to a diplomatic post at a Pakistani consulate in Britain, allowing the Yousafzai family to reside in the UK for the time being.
"She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her ideal leader," Ehsanullah Ehsan, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement justifying the attack. "She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas."