The Taliban reopened high schools that had remained closed since their Kabul offensive. However, the order to return to education was issued only to boys. Teachers – only male teachers – were also summoned to work. The statement made no mention of women and girls, suggesting there is no place for them in the new Afghan education system, the BBC writes on Saturday.
“All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” the Afghan Ministry of Education said in a statement released on Friday. Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, most schools in the country’s capital have remained closed. Secondary schools are intended for students between 13 and 18 years of age. Most of them are gender segregated, which may make it easier for the Taliban to close girls’ facilities.
On Saturday, some of the girls resumed primary schools. Their older friends are still waiting for their turn.
Taliban and women’s rights
When the Taliban took Kabul on August 15 – effectively taking control of most of Afghanistan – they promised to respect women’s rights “in accordance with the sharia law.” They assured that they would be able to return to work, schools and perform high functions in the state administration. Despite this, not a single woman was appointed to the new government. The exclusion of girls in a call for teenagers to return to school seems to be further evidence that the Taliban will rule in the same way as they did 20 years ago, the BBC notes.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told local news agency Bakhtar on Saturday that preparations were underway to reopen women’s high schools as well. However, he did not provide the exact date – notes the Reuters agency. Despite the Taliban’s assurances, many young Afghan women and teachers fear for their future.
– I am so afraid for my future – a girl who wants to become a lawyer says in an interview with the BBC. – The future seems dark. Every day I wake up and ask myself why am I even alive? Should I stay home and wait for someone to knock on the door and ask for my hand? Is that the purpose of being a woman? – wonders.
The teenager’s father supports her concerns and adds that he does not want her to “become his mother.” – She was illiterate and my father abused her because of it and called her names of idiots – she says.
– I wanted to become a doctor, now this dream is gone. I don’t think they let us go back to school. Even if they open a high school for girls, they don’t want women to educate themselves, another 16-year-old Afghan woman told the BBC.
Failure of education
Earlier this week, the Taliban announced that women would be allowed to study, but not with men, and that they would have to dress in certain ways. The BBC has made rumors that girls will be excluded because universities do not have enough resources to provide separate classes.
Since the Americans defeated the Taliban, the education system in Afghanistan has improved significantly in 20 years. Illiteracy rates have fallen – especially among women and girls. Until mid-August this year, 2.5 million girls were studying in primary schools.
“This is a failure for the education of Afghan women and girls,” said Nororya Nizhat, a former spokeswoman for the ministry of education, commenting on the current situation of Afghan women.
On Friday, Reuters and AFP reported that Islamic fighters closed the ministry of women affairs and replaced it with a ministry for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice. Taliban spokesmen did not comment on the matter.
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