The head of the Taliban’s education commission has confirmed a ban on secondary school education for girls, according to a BBC report. Acting Deputy Education Minister Abdul Hakim Hemat told the media company that girls in Afghanistan who want to attend secondary school will have to wait until a new education policy is enacted at the start of 2022.
The announcement marks the first acknowledgement by Taliban authorities of such a ban. The hardline Islamist group has repeatedly vowed it would allow girls to return to school and university, part of its promise that women under its new rule would be treated differently compared to when it ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Girls and women were banned from schools and universities during the last Taliban rule.
According to World Bank, girls’ secondary school attendance in Afghanistan rose from six percent in 2003 to 39 percent in 2017. There are fears that the gains made in girls’ education over the past 20 years could be lost. Some girl schools are reported to have re-opened after negotiating with local Taliban officials. Schools allowing the attendance of girls in grades 7 to 12 are opened in eight of 34 provinces.
European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson urged the Taliban to allow women to work and girls to go to school. He termed the section of girls in Afghanistan not going to school and women not going to work a frozen asset, reported Pajhwok Afghan News. Human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai argued for stronger US support of Afghan girls and women during a visit to Washington.
However, claiming that the Taliban does not oppose female education, the Islamic Emirate said that this was the girls’ Islamic and legal right. Acting Minister of Education of Afghanistan Noorullah Munir, in a recent interview with a local news agency, said that they would bring changes to the current curriculum and will make it Islamic.