Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who drew global attention after being shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls' education, returned to school on Tuesday in Britain, where she has been treated for her injuries.
The 15-year-old has become an international figure as a symbol of resistance to Taliban efforts to deny women rights. She is among the nominees for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
She described her return to school as the most important day of her life.
"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," she said in a statement.
Accompanied by her father and carrying a pink knapsack, Malala joined other pupils at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, central England, close to the hospital where she underwent surgery to reconstruct her skull last month.
"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 said.
Malala was brought to Britain for specialist treatment after she was shot in the head at point-blank range by Taliban gunmen last October.
She left hospital in February after she made a good recovery from surgery during which doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate and inserted a cochlear implant to help restore hearing on her left side.
Malala will study a full curriculum at the school, where annual fees are the equivalent of $15,500.
"She wants to be a normal teenage girl and to have the support of other girls around," said Edgbaston headteacher Ruth Weeks. "Talking to her, I know that's something she missed during her time in hospital."