LONDON: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by Taliban gunmen while advocating girls’ education in October, started attending a school in the United Kingdom‚ weeks after being released from hospital.
The 15-year-old Malala described her return to school as the most important day of her life, as she joined other students at the city’s Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham.
“I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity,” Malala said in a statement.
“I miss my classmates from Pakistan very much but I am looking forward to meeting my teachers and making new friends here in Birmingham,” she added.
Malala will be studying a full curriculum in preparation for selecting subjects for GCSEs, the exams that English schoolchildren sit when they are aged between 14 and 16.
Malala was flown to UK for specialist treatment after being shot at point-blank range by a Taliban gunman as her school bus traveled through northwest Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 9, in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation.
She has since become a global symbol of the campaign for girls’ right to an education and has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
UN education envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has backed Malala’s cause, said it was a “great day.” “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,” Brown said. “I wish Malala and her family well as her courageous recovery continues.”
Malala left hospital in early February after making a good recovery from surgery during which doctors fitted a titanium plate to her skull and inserted a cochlear implant to help restore hearing in her left ear.
Her father Ziauddin Yousufzai is serving as Brown’s special adviser on education and her family have temporarily moved to Birmingham, a city with a large Pakistani population.