Afghanistan: Taliban announce closure of girls’ high schools

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The Taliban announced today that they will close girls’ high schools and lyceums in Afghanistan, just hours after they reopened, an official of the Islamist movement confirmed.

“Yes, it is true,” said Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani, without elaborating, confirming reports that the girls had been asked to return home.

An AFP team was filming a lesson at a girls’ high school in Kabul this morning when a teacher entered the classroom and asked the girls to return home.

The girls, who had been particularly happy to return to school for the first time since August when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, packed their things and left their classrooms weeping.

“I saw my schoolgirls crying and they hesitated to leave the classroom. It is very painful to see your schoolgirls crying,” said Paluasa, a teacher at a girls’ school in Kabul.

UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons described the closure of girls’ schools as “worrying”.

The international community has repeatedly warned that ensuring girls’ right to education is a key condition for negotiations on aid to Afghanistan and recognition of the Taliban regime.

The Afghan Ministry of Education had earlier announced that classes in girls’ secondary schools would resume today, with the exception of those in Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold where they would begin next month.

“We will not reopen the schools to the satisfaction of the international community or to gain recognition,” said Taliban spokesman Aziz Ahmad Ryan.

“We will do it as part of our responsibility to offer education and training structures to our students,” he added.

The Taliban have said they need time to ensure that 12- to 19-year-old girls attend school separately from boys and that educational institutions operate on Islamic principles.

Ahead of the Taliban’s surprise announcement this morning, girls in Afghanistan said they were “happy” they could return to their ranks.

At around 07:00 (local time, 04:30 Greek time) several hundred schoolgirls showed up at the Zargona girls’ high school, one of the largest in Kabul.

Dressed in abaya (a long garment that covers the whole body), black or colorful, or long coat and a scarf on the head, but also a protective mask, the teenagers passed the big, blue gate of the school.

“When I arrived, I saw the school gate open and all the students coming and I was very happy,” said Sadaf, a 16-year-old student.

“We thought we could not progress. For those eight months we lived at home trying to read our books,” added the girl who wants to become a doctor.

Schools in other provinces, such as Pansir, Kunduz and Herat, had reopened this morning before reopening.

“Psychologically affected”

“Last year all the students were psychologically affected, we really did not want this to happen again,” one girl commented.

The elementary school students had returned to their classes two months after the Taliban seized power, while the boys went to school normally.

However, due to poverty and conflict in Afghanistan, students often miss much of the school year, with some finishing school around 20.

During their seven months in power, the Islamists have imposed many restrictions on women: they have barred them from many positions in the public sector, controlled the way they dress, and barred them from traveling alone outside their place of residence.

Islamists have also arrested and detained many women activists who have protested for women’s rights.

Source: AMPE

Source: Capital

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