Hundreds of girls in Afghanistan were to resume school today, as the education ministry had announced the reopening of secondary schools for girls. However, hours later, the Taliban government promptly shut them down again.
A notice issued by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education read, “We inform all-girls high schools and those schools that are having female students above class six that they are off until the next order.”
The notice reportedly added that the schools would re-open after deciding the uniform for female students, in accordance with “Sharia law and Afghan tradition”. Many girl students were left in tears as they were asked to pack up their belongings and file out due to the sudden reversal of the previous order to reopen schools. “I see my students crying and reluctant to leave classes,” said Palwasha, a teacher at Omra Khan girls’ school in Kabul.
The country was taken over by the Taliban back in August 2021, when schools were still shut across the country, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the takeover, the militant organisation subsequently imposed harsh restrictions on women and girls’ right to education. Only boys and younger girls were allowed to return to school two months later, due to these restrictions. However, providing education to girls was a key demand made by the international community, without fulfilling which the Taliban administration would not be recognised.
On Tuesday, during an interview, the education ministry spokesperson Aziz Ahmad Rayan had said, “We are not reopening the schools to make the international community happy, nor are we doing it to gain recognition from the world.”
He had added, “We are doing it as part of our responsibility to provide education and other facilities to our students.” Rayan did not immediately explain the reasoning behind the reversal, and said that they were “not allowed to comment on this”.
The Taliban government had agreed that they would reopen schools, but would also ensure that institutions for girls aged 12-19 years were segregated, and operated “according to Islamic principles”.