The Taliban backtracked on their declaration that girls’ high schools would open, saying they would remain closed until a plan based on Islamic law was made up to reopen them.
Many people were taken aback by the U-turn, which left students in tears and drew condemnation from humanitarian agencies, human rights organisations, and diplomats at a time when the Taliban administration is seeking international recognition.
Teachers and students from three high schools in Kabul claimed on Wednesday morning that girls had returned to campus with joy, but that they had been ordered to return home. Many pupils were claimed to have gone in tears.
“When the principal told us, she was also crying,” said a student who did not want to be identified for security reasons.
The international world has made girls’ education a top priority for any future recognition of the Taliban administration, which assumed power in August after Western forces departed.
The Taliban’s decision, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, was “a great disappointment and highly detrimental for Afghanistan.”
“Education denial not only undermines women’s and girls’ equal rights to education,” Guterres said in a statement. “I urge the de facto Taliban authority to open schools for all kids as soon as possible.”
After months of limitations on education for high school-aged females, the Ministry of Education said last week that schools for all pupils, including girls, will open across the country on Wednesday.
A Ministry of Education spokeswoman produced a video on Tuesday evening welcoming all students on their return to class.
According to Bakhtar News, a government news agency, a Ministry of Education notification issued on Wednesday stated that schools for females would be shuttered until a plan was worked up in conformity with Islamic law and Afghan culture.
Suhail Shaheen, a senior Taliban member headquartered in Doha, said the delay in the opening of girls’ schools was due to a technical issue, and that the Ministry of Education was working on uniforms that would be consistent across the country.
“We aim to fix and finalise the uniform issue as soon as possible,” he stated.
After seven months at home, sixteen-year-old Khadija went to school on Wednesday, having stayed up all night in anticipation. However, only minutes after forming a line with her classmates for a welcome speech, the school’s assistant manager approached them, crying, and told them they had to go.
“We couldn’t believe we were in such bad shape… it felt like a day of sadness. Everyone was in tears and hugging one another “she stated
When she got home, she unpacked her books and attempted to think of a way to stay motivated, such as teaching younger children in her neighbourhood to help her remember her teachings. Nonetheless, she said that the disappointment was difficult to overcome.
“In the future, I’d like to be a doctor,” she remarked, “but right now, I’m like a dead body.”
Girls protesting in Kabul were captured on camera by local media.
According to a U.N. statement, the UN’s special envoy for Afghanistan formally conveyed the organization’s “grave concern and dissatisfaction” to Taliban authorities.
The Taliban wants to administer the country according to their version of Islamic law while also gaining access to billions of dollars in aid that the country sorely needs to avoid widespread poverty.
“I would urge the Taliban to live up to their obligations to their people for the sake of the country’s future and ties with the international community,” US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tom West said in a tweet.