Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who emerged as a global symbol of women's education rights after she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman last year, has returned to school for the first time since her fateful encounter last October.
Now living in Britain, where she has received extensive medical care, the 15-year-old completed her first day at the Edgbaston High School for Girls in the Midlands city of Birmingham. She was released from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the city only a few weeks ago.
Her father, Ziauddin, who accompanied Malala to school in the morning, now works as education attaché at the Pakistan Consulate in Birmingham.
Malala’s exorbitant medical bills have been paid for by the Pakistani government.
The Birmingham Mail newspaper reported that Malala will study a full curriculum at the Edgbaston school and will go on to sit for her General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs).
“I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school,” she told the paper.
“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.”
Video of Malala taken Tuesday shows her walking to school with her father while carrying a pink backpack and wearing a traditional black headscarf.
The BBC reported that Malala, who speaks fluent English, wants to study politics and law.
Gordon Brown, the former prime minister and now an education envoy for the UN, gushed over Malala’s return.
“This is a great day for Malala, for her family – and for the cause of education worldwide,” Brown said in a statement.
“By her courage, Malala shows that nothing – not even bullets, intimidation or death threats – can stand in the way of the right of every girl to an education. I wish Malala and her family well as her courageous recovery continues.”
Malala will be the most famous student in her school – there are even calls for her to be nominated for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
But according to the school’s head teacher, Ruth Weekes, Malala will be treated as a normal student despite her enormous worldwide fame.
Malala “wants to be a normal teenage girl and to have the support of other girls around,” Weekes told BBC.
"Talking to her, I know that's something she missed during her time in hospital."
Birmingham has a large South Asian population; -- almost one-fifth of the city is of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.