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The Taliban regime broke its promise to keep girls’ schools open and operational, as Afghanistan’s education ministry declared the reopening and kicked off the new school year on Wednesday, with the exception of girls’ and women’s educational institutions.
As reported by the Taliban-dominated local media Bakhtar News, the director of publications and spokesman of the Ministry of Education, Mawlawi Aziz Ahmad, said that a plan had been presented to reopen all schools in the country, but right now, under the guidelines of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, schools for women from the sixth grade upwards are closed “until further notice.”
“After compiling a comprehensive plan in this field in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture and traditions, as well as the ruling of the Islamic Emirate, female schools and high schools will be officially informed,” the official said.
On the other hand, the Deputy Director-General of the Taliban regime’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Mawlawi Noor al-Haq, said that education should be “standard and in accordance with Islamic and Afghan values,” although the government is “aware of the value of science and knowledge.”
As reported by the AFP news agency, the spokesman told reporters that this move is due to “cultural restrictions” and that “the mindsets of Afghans are not ready” to educate women. “The main spokesmen of the Islamic Emirate will offer better clarifications” later, he said.
Taliban regime “dashing dreams” of Afghan girls
AFP also reported that its team was filming at a school when a female educator approached and ordered all the girls to go home. It also shared footage of the students’ “anguish” upon learning that they will not be able to continue their education.
WatchAssociate women’s rights director, and former senior Afghanistan researcher, at Human Rights Watch, Heather Barr, also shared an emotional video showing Afghan girls crying in front of the press.
The New York Times picked up the testimony of a 12th grader in Kabul, who claimed that the news had “ended her last hope” of fighting for her dream of becoming a lawyer.
“Education was the only way to give us some hope in these times of despair, and it was the only right we hoped for, and it has been taken away from us,” student Zahra Rohani, 15, told the NYT.
Mehrin Ekhtiari, another 15-year-old 10th grader quoted by the NYT, said she and her classmates were shocked when the news was announced in the classroom.
“My hope was revived after eight months of waiting,” she said of the anticipation of returning to classes, especially when the Ministry of Education had announced on Monday the reopening of schools (including girls’ schools,) adding that the announcement had “dashed all [her] dreams.”
Following the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August last year, when the Taliban took over Kabul by force and imposed a military regime under their command, they had promised that the rights of women and girls, including education, would be respected.