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Nobel winner Malala's day at school


Teenage activist Malala Yousafzai who has jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize

Teenage activist Malala Yousafzai who has jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize

Teenage activist Malala Yousafzai who has jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize

Education activist Malala Yousafzai found out she had become the youngest person to win a Nobel prize from a teacher in chemistry class and decided to finish her lessons.

The 17-year-old campaigner was jointly awarded the prestigious peace prize with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi for her "heroic struggle" in favour of girls' access to education.

Malala came to prominence after surviving an assassination attempt in October 2012 when her calls for equal rights angered Taliban militants in her homeland of Pakistan.

Speaking after finishing the school day at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, she said: "When I found I had won the Nobel Peace Prize I decided I would not leave my school, rather I would finish my school time.

"I went to the physics lessons, I learned. I went to the English lesson. I considered it like a normal day.

"I was really happy with the response of my teachers and my fellow students. They were all saying they were proud."

The teenager said it was "quite difficult" to express her emotions but she felt "really honoured" and dedicated the award to "all those children who are voiceless".

She told a press conference at the Library of Birmingham: "I felt more powerful and more courageous because this award is not just a piece of metal or a medal you wear or an award you keep in your room.

"This is encouragement for me to go forward."

Dr Ruth Weeks, headmistress at Edgbaston High School, said: "We are delighted. For Malala to achieve this distinguished accolade is indeed a great honour.

"This recognition is all the more remarkable in the context of Malala's youth. For someone so young she has displayed remarkable humility, personal integrity and determination.

"We at Edgbaston High School are extremely proud of her and we offer to her our warmest congratulations on this achievement."

Malala explained that she had spoken to Mr Satyarthi on the telephone and the pair had agreed to build "strong relationships" between India and Pakistan.

She said they would "honourably request" for both Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to join them when they receive their award on December 10 in Oslo, Norway.

By winning, Malala took the title of youngest Nobel Laureate from Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 when he was awarded the prize with his father for physics in 1915.

She joined an illustrious roll call of winners of the prestigious peace prize which includes Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel Prize committee said: "Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.

"This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances.

"Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls' rights to education."

The Nobel committee said it was an "important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism".

It praised Mr Satyarthi, 60, for showing "great personal courage, maintaining Gandhi's tradition" to lead peaceful protests against child slavery and exploitation during almost 35 years.

The pair came top of a record list of 278 nominees which included US whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis.

Besides prize money of eight million Swedish krona (almost £690,000), Nobel laureates receive a gold medal and a diploma.

Malala, whose father Ziauddin Yousafzai is a school teacher, was just 15 when she was shot in the head in Swat District, in the country's north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Her career as an activist began in early 2009, when she started writing a blog for the BBC about her life under Taliban occupation and promoting education for girls in the Swat Valley.

On October 9 2012 a gunman fired three shots at her using a Colt 45 after asking for her by name as she travelled on her school bus.

One of the bullets hit the left side of Malala's forehead, travelled the length of her face through the skin and into her shoulder.

In the days following the attack she remained unconscious and in a critical condition and was airlifted first to Dubai and then on to Birmingham, where she was treated for life-threatening injuries at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Unable to return to her home country due to continued threats, she is now based in Birmingham.

The Khushal Public School where Malala studied before being shot, which is run by her first cousin Mehmood ul Hassan, is planning to hold a ceremony on Monday to celebrate its globally famous former pupil's achievement.

Since her recovery Malala has spoken before the UN, met the Queen and US president Barack Obama, been named by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people and published her memoir, I Am Malala.

Last year the UN made July 12 - the activist's birthday - Malala Day, celebrating the campaign for a child's right to receive an education.

The Nobel prize announcements have been made throughout the week and conclude with the prize for economics on Monday.

On Monday, British-American scientist John O'Keefe and married couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser from Norway won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the brain's "inner GPS".

Yesterday the literary world was taken by surprise when the committee chose little-known French author Patrick Modiano for the prize.

US president Barack Obama said he was "awestruck" by the courage of Malala as he congratulated the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

He said: "At just 17 years old, Malala Yousafzai has inspired people around the world with her passion and determination to make sure girls everywhere can get an education.

"When the Taliban tried to silence her, Malala answered their brutality with strength and resolve.

"Michelle and I were proud to welcome this remarkable young woman to the Oval Office last year. We were awe-struck by her courage and filled with hope knowing this is only the beginning of her extraordinary efforts to make the world a better place.

"Malala and Kailash have faced down threats and intimidation, risking their own lives to save others and build a better world for future generations."