Reportedly targeted by members of the Taliban last October, for being a vocal advocate of women’s education, Malala has begun as a student at the exclusive Edgbaston High School – one of the oldest independent schools in Birmingham, England.
“I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school,” said Malala. “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.”
Malala sustained extensive injuries after being shot on her way home from school in northwestern Pakistan, in a case that received worldwide condemnation. She was flown to Britain to receive special treatment and underwent surgery on her skull to fit a custom-made piece of titanium, receiving cochlear implants for damage sustained to hearing in her left ear.
Six months after the attack, which saw her shot in the head at point-blank range, and only a month since being released from hospital, you would be hard pressed singling out the young activist, once nominated for TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year, from the crowd of students.
In pictures released today, Malala looks like any other student on her way to school accompanied by her father Ziauddin in a green school sweater and holding a pink backpack.
She will begin studying a full curriculum and is expected to prepare for the GCSE’s – national exams sat by all English students aged 14-16. Her head teacher Ruth Weeks says Malala will be treated like any other normal student.
The young Pakistani girl has inadvertently become a global symbol of the campaign for women’s rights to an education and has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year. TIME magazine recognised her as “the world’s most admired children’s rights advocate” after her attack failed to silence her – instead strengthening her will to gain an education:
“I want every girl, every child to be educated. And for that reason, we have organised Malala Fund,” Malala said in her first public address four months after the attack.
“This is a great day for Malala, for her family – and for the cause of education worldwide,” UN education envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon 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” Mr Brown added.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, is serving as Mr. Brown’s special adviser on education, after her family has temporarily moved to Birmingham, a city with a large Pakistani population.