Taliban refusal to allow girls return to schools in Afghanistan, sparks UN outcry
In what many have described as yet another letdown of their promise to safeguard women’s rights, the Taliban have not allowed girls to return to secondary schools, effectively enforcing a ban on their higher education.
The newly minted Taliban government permitted high schools to reopen for only boys and male teachers. There was no mention of girl students or women teachers in the education ministry’s announcement declaring resumption of school classes for boys in grades seven to 12 from Saturday.
“All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” the statement said.
According to The Guardian, the new diktat makes Afghanistan the only country in the world to bar half its population from getting a secondary education.
The development comes against the backdrop of UNICEF expressing concerns over girls’ education in Afghanistan under the Taliban. In a statement issued on Friday, UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said she was “deeply worried” that the hardline Islamist outfit, with its ironclad governance under Sharia law, would not allow Afghan girls back into classrooms.
“Girls cannot, and must not, be left behind. It is critical that all girls, including older girls, are able to resume their education without any further delays. For that, we need female teachers to resume teaching,” said Fore.
Secondary schools, with students typically between the ages of 13 and 18, are often segregated by sex in Afghanistan. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have faced repeated closures and have been shut since the Taliban seized power, reported AFP.
Since a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001, significant progress has been made in girls’ education, with the number of schools tripling and female literacy nearly doubling to 30 per cent.
Meanwhile, primary schools have already reopened, with boys and girls mostly attending separate classes and some women teachers returning to work. Earlier this month, images of an Afghan university classroom with a curtain segregating the men and women students went viral on social media.
In another transgressive move against women’s rights, the Taliban replaced the Ministry of Women’s Affairswith the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in other words, the moral police.
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