Afghanistan: Girls in 3 provinces back to school under Taliban

Kabul:¬†For the first time since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan this year, girls returned to schools in the provinces of Kunduz, Balkh and Sar-e-Pul, said a media report. The head of Balkh’s provincial department of education, Jalil Sayed Khili, said that all girls’ schools have opened, TOLO News reported. “We have segregated the girl students from the boys,” he was quoted as saying.

Girls in Balkh were happy to be allowed to return to school. Sultan Razia, a female student in Balkh’s capital Mazar-e-Sharif where there are over 4,600 students and 162 teachers, said: “Initially, there were a few students but the number is getting larger and the lessons are good.”

Another student at the school, Tabasom, said: “Education is our right, we want to improve our country and no one can or should take the right of education from us.” According to the statistics of the Balkh educational department, over 600 schools are active in the province with around 50,000 students.

Last month, the Taliban appointed Education Ministry had announced that only boys’ schools will reopen, and only male teachers can restart their jobs. The Ministry however, did not say anything about female teachers or girls returning to school.

Based on numbers of the Education Ministry, currently 14,098 schools operate in Afghanistan, of which 4,932 are schools with students from grade 10-12, 3,781 from grades 7-9, and 5,385 from grade 1-6. According to the statistics, out of the total schools, 28 per cent of grade 10-12, 15.5 per cent of 7-9, and 13.5 per cent of grade 1-6 are girls’ schools.

Saeed Khosti, a member of the Cultural Commission of the Culture and Information Ministry, said: “There are technical problems. There are problems that should be solved fundamentally and there is a need to make a policy and framework. In this framework, it should be established how our girls should continue their lessons. When these problems are solved, all the girls can go to school.”

The female students said that although the Taliban has repeatedly said it has changed, their recent decision is disappointing and causes the girls and young women to fear a further loss of rights.