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Despite Taliban Restrictions, Some Locals Reopen Schools for Afghan Girls

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SOME female secondary schools in Afghanistan’s east have reopened more than a year after the de facto Taliban government forbade Class 7 to 12 girls from attending school.

Locals and teachers in the eastern Paktya region have taken the initiative on their own to reopen at least five secondary schools. The Taliban did not take part in the reopening of the schools.

“It is the decision of the people and the teachers. The local government and education directorate of Paktya province are not involved nor did we say anything to keep the schools closed,” Paktya’s information and culture director Khaliqyar Ahmadzai told EFE on Tuesday.

Celebratory messages flooded the social networks on the news of the reopening of secondary schools for girls.

Activists and students hoped more provinces would come forward and open their schools without waiting for approval from the Taliban.

“The opening of schools shows our people’s love for education. It will revive the shattered hopes of all girls,” the former governor of eastern Nangarhar province Ziaul Haq Amarkhil tweeted.

The politician-turned-activist hoped that girls would soon return to “enjoy their basic rights.”

The Taliban had announced that they would allow girls above Class 6 to return to schools on Mar.23, the first day of the school year in Afghanistan after the winter break.

However, the Islamist regime reneged on its promise and barred Class 7 to 12 girls from attending schools.

The Islamists said they had temporarily shut schools for girls to “adapt” their education to Islamic or Sharia law, while the primary school had remained open for all.

Allowing girls of all ages to attend schools has been one of the most crucial demands set by the international community after the Islamists came to power.

The international community has demanded that the Taliban guarantee rights of all Afghans, especially women, to restore the flow of humanitarian aid into the war-battered country.

The international community has closely followed the Taliban government, hoping that the new rulers would distance themselves from the hardline of the Islamist regime during its rule from 1996 to 2001.

The then Taliban rulers had banned girls from schools, and the women remained confined to their homes.

The Taliban government formed a nine-member committee in May to facilitate the reopening of secondary schools for girls without a headway so far.

Paktya thus joined the northern Balkh province that never closed its schools for girls, provincial Information and culture director Zabiullah Rohani told EFE on Tuesday.

“Since the fall of the previous government, female secondary schools have never been closed,” Rohani said.

The northern province is ethnically different from the south and east Afghanistan dominated by Pashtuns – the same ethnic society the Taliban draw their roots from.

The north has a strong presence of Tajiks, Turkmen, and Uzbeks – considered more progressive toward the rights of women.

Three days ago, UN Secretary-General António Guterres recalled on Twitter how “girls in Afghanistan continue to be locked out of the classroom.”

“This is an unjustifiable violation of equal rights that damages the entire country. Girls belong in school,” he said.

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