Shamsia suffered severe burns on her eyelids and cheeks in the November 2008 assault, which generated global publicity, with then US first lady Laura Bush condemning it as a "cowardly and shameful" crime.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai vowed to hang the men who had attacked Shamsia as she walked to the all-girls' Mirwais Mena school on the outskirts of Kandahar city.

One man, wearing a mask, asked Shamsia if she was going to school. Then he tore off her veil and pumped acid from a spray gun onto her face.

Several other pupils were hurt in a series of similar acid attacks that morning, but Shamsia and her friends refused to abandon their lessons and persuaded their reluctant parents to support the school staying open.

Five years on, Shamsia, now aged 22, is still in the classroom -- but now she stands in front of an energetic bunch of nine and 10-year-old girls.