Girls were unable to return to secondary schools in Afghanistan today after the country’s new Taliban rulers ordered only boys and teachers to return to the classroom.
High schools reopen in Afghanistan without girls and teachers
The hard-line Islamist group ousted the U.S.-backed government last month, promising a softer kind of rule than its repressive reign in the 1990s, in which women were mainly barred from education and work.
But the Education Ministry decree was the latest move by the new government to threaten women’s rights.
“All male teachers and students must attend their educational institutions,” a statement said before classes resumed today.
The statement, issued last night, did not mention female teachers or students.
High schools, whose students are typically between the ages of 13 and 18, are often segregated by gender in Afghanistan. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have faced repeated closures and have been closed since the Taliban took power.
Since a U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001, there have been significant gains in girls’ education, with the number of schools tripling and female literacy nearly doubling to 30%; however, the change was largely confined to the cities.
The United Nations declared itself “deeply concerned” about the future of girls’ schooling in Afghanistan.
“It is critical that all girls, including older girls, are able to resume their education without further delay. To do this, we need female teachers to return to teaching,” said the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.
The new regime has also allowed women to attend private universities, albeit with strict restrictions on their dress and movement.