The latest: In yet another setback and going back on its promises, the Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education announced that the new academic year for universities will begin from March 6 this academic year, but only for male students in Kabul and several other colder provinces. This move comes as a big blow to those hopeful of a new academic year at universities which would allow female students back to class.
- According to a decision by the High Council for Higher Education the new academic year for male students at public universities and educational institutions in colder regions will officially start on March 6.
- Meanwhile, thousands of female students are awaiting the group’s revision of the ban on girls’ education as the new school year begins.
- Schools and universities go on annual winter break in about 24 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
- The German Embassy in Afghanistan has emphasized the importance of education for girls and women in Afghanistan. This embassy tweeted that education is in the interest of Afghan people, and equal access to education empowers individuals and strengthens communities.
Why it matters? Taliban authorities have banned the education of female students across the country until further notice. Previously, the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan’s de facto regime had announced that the group is working on a plan, however, after more than a year and a half, there is no update on the plan or further directions in this regard.
- Since seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban have also shut down secondary schools for female students, saying the ban is temporary.
- The Taliban’s latest decisions depriving Afghan women and girls of the rights to education and work prompted massive criticisms – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and several foreign governments including the US, the International Community, and aid organizations have emphasized the resumption of schools and universities for female students.
- Even, Doctors Without Borders, a non-governmental aid organization, criticized the latest restrictions by Taliban authorities barring women and girls from attending the final medical exams. The organization has called on the de facto authorities to set a new date for the final exam.
Between the lines: Afghanistan is the only country where women and girls are officially barred from education and work, according to human rights groups.
- Facing domestic and global condemnation, some Taliban officials have also reportedly shown disapproval of the government’s misogynistic policies.
- Cracking down on internal dissent, the Taliban have defied international calls, including from renowned Islamic institutions, to lift the bans on women’s work and education, saying the world should not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
Zoom out: This decision comes even as Taliban’s Education Minister, Habibullah Agha met with Roza Otunbayeva Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and discussed the recent development in the education sector in Afghanistan on Thursday.
- Agha apparently even claimed that the Taliban group has had “considerable achievements” in the areas of education, security, and economy, and the world should know their responsibility towards war-torn Afghanistan.
- In the announcement of the Taliban’s ministry of education, it has been quoted the representative of the United Nations that this organization will unconditionally continue to help the education sector in Afghanistan.
- Apart from this, in a meeting with Thomas Niklasson and Raffaella Iodice, deputy head of delegation of the European Union, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called on the EU representative in Afghanistan to harbour “close relations” with the Taliban in Kandahar, the stronghold of Taliban. He called on European countries to open their embassies in Kabul.