Malala's message is felt in the classrooms of Swat

Malala Yousufzai spoke for the first time since the attack yesterday Photo:

It is the first day of term in Swat Valley Pakistan and we are watching the girls of Rashif Minhas High School give prayers of thanks for their education.

These few have much to be thankful for.

Two thirds of the poorest girls in Pakistan do not go to school. Only an estimated 26% of girls in Pakistan are literate. Poverty, cultural and social taboos as well as the Taliban threat often mean education is a rare privilege here for girls, rather than a fundamental right.

We are in Mingora, the home town of the young school girl activist shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousufzai.

Malala Yousufzai spoke for the first time since the attack yesterday

Her new video message renewing her mission to empower girls through education is making front page news here.

Some of her family living locally fear it could once again provoke her Taliban terrorist enemies out of the shadows.

Her cousin Aziz Yousufzai, also a teacher, tells me of his pride in his fearless young relative, but of his fears for her long-term safety as well.

When I see her it is extraordinary to think of what she has achieved- even being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but she has done an extraordinary thing - made an extraordinary sacrifice. I think these words could again put her life in a threat.

We have travelled to Mingora in the North West Frontier Province, now called Khyber Pahktoon Province, with an escort from the Pakistani army for our own protection.

The officer is reassuring us that the Taliban have been driven out of the area.

But the teachers at Malala's former school in Mingora are anxious: Whilst happy to welcome us, they do not want to be filmed or to see the students filmed for fear of reprisals.

The numbers attending their girls school have risen since the attack, they tell me. In that sense, Malala has already had an impact in the cities here. But it is unlikely the rural areas will have felt any similar Malala effect, despite the Government using the Malala incident to push the issue further up the national agenda.

Students protested around Pakistan after Malala's shooting in October Credit: Reuters

In villages our team visited out of town, fathers openly spoke about the normality of their daughters not going to school because it was their. "destiny to become the property of another man". These were not terrorist extremists who wanted to harm their daughters or blow up their schools but rural fathers who could not afford to educate all their children and saw little point in schooling for girls.

Malala's cousin, Aziz, says her message must now reach the new generation - the young - and inspire them.

At Malala's school, the pupils have talked to Malala on the phone in England and the school office contains bundles of cards for her sent from all over the world.

"The students are brave - but the parents worry," says the administrator at Malala's school.

But some of the pupils worry too, which makes their bravery all the more striking.

One of them, 16 year old Kainat Ricik, who was injured in the same attack as her friend Malala, told me she could not sleep at night because of the nightmares she has suffered since. "I prefer the day time, when my courage is high," she says.

She now lives with a permanent armed guard outside her home for her own protection and says she sometimes feels like a prisoner. And yet, she says, "the cause of girls' education is worth it."

At Rashid Minhas High School the handful of girls study the sciences and English with concentrated fervour.

They tell me they want to be lawyers and teachers when they grow up and that Malala Yousufzai has been an inspiration.

Malala pictured before the Taliban attack Credit: Reuters

Their school has intermittent electricity and many of their lessons take place in the darkness of power cuts. They never have heating and have access to few books.

The head teacher hopes the Malala fund will bring new resources for his pupils. "That is change we need. We need more materials, but we are not afraid." In front of our army host he will not discuss politics or Malala, a subject now laden with politics in Pakistan.

From our visit it is clear that outside the classrooms in the cities of Swat Valley, Malala's message has yet to be felt.

Inside the classrooms, Malala's message has given strength to the few girls here who are given the chance to learn.