The Taliban have excluded girls from Afghan secondary schools

By Constance Ndeleko

According to a statement by Save the Children on 18th of September, secondary schools in Afghanistan will be reopening, but only for boys this means that girls have been stripped off an opportunity to continue with their education which is a violation of their human rights. This was a decree issued by the Taliban

 “If girls are not allowed to go back to school, this will be a shocking violation of their rights. All children have an equal right to education regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion or economic background. “Every child in Afghanistan today has grown up knowing only war, which has already disrupted the education of millions. Many Afghan children are also suffering from trauma and that is now being compounded by the impact of drought, mass displacement and a growing economic crisis. Education is not just about their growth and development; it is a lifeline – especially for girls. To have that lifeline taken away now would be devastating, says Olivier Franchi, Regional Programme Operations Director for Save the Children in Asia.

KABUL—Teenage Afghan girls weren’t allowed to return to school on Saturday as classrooms across the country reopened for the first time since the Taliban took power last month, raising fears that their new fundamentalist government will permanently ban secondary education for girls.

The statement from the ministry of education didn’t mention girls, amounting to a de facto ban for now on them going to secondary school. The Taliban have allowed girls up to sixth grade to attend school, but they will be taught in separate classrooms from boys.

The news raises fresh fears as to how the Taliban will treat Afghan women. They have pledged to respect the rights of women within the limits of Islam, but haven’t fully elaborated on what those limits are. When the Taliban were in power in the late 1990s, they imposed draconian restrictions on women, banning them from most workplaces and education and forbidding them from leaving the house without a male guardian.

“All the girls are depressed now. They want to study and work,” said a teacher at Malalai girls’ high school in Kabul. “Some of the girls were in their final semester. They were just one step short of graduating and getting their diplomas, but look, now they don’t know what to do.”

Narges Hussaini, a 14-year-old eighth-grade student at Jebrael girls’ school in the western city of Herat, said she couldn’t fathom not being able to study.

“I have worked so hard in the past eight years and have always been the best student in my class. I want to become a doctor and help my people,” she said. “I have very big dreams. I can’t give up on them.”

Rahila Amir Mohammad, a female teacher at Habibia primary school for girls in Kabul, where preteen girls returned to the classroom on Saturday, dressed in black dresses and white head scarves, said her school used to teach boys and girls together. However, the Taliban now has ordered them to separate the students by gender.

The United Nations said it welcomed the reopening of secondary schools, which had been closed for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are deeply worried, however, that many girls may not be allowed back at this time,” Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore said Saturday.

The U.N. has asked the Taliban to clarify when girls will be allowed to return to school, and diplomats are still hopeful that the new Afghan government won’t impose a permanent ban, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Source: |Wall Street Journal|

The BBC report: Under their new government, Taliban officials have said that women will be allowed to study and work in accordance with the group’s interpretation of Islamic religious law.

The number of girls in primary schools increased from almost zero to 2.5 million, while the female literacy rate nearly doubled in a decade to 30%. However, many of the gains have been made in cities.”This is a setback in the education of Afghan women and girls,” said Nororya Nizhat, a former Education Ministry spokesperson.

“This reminds everyone of what the Taliban did in the 90s. We ended up with a generation of illiterate and non-educated women.” Shortly after taking power the Taliban said the rights of women in Afghanistan would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.

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