Girls’ schools across Afghanistan will hopefully reopen by late March, a senior Taliban leader has told the Associated Press, offering the first timeline for the resumption of high schools for girls since the group retook power in mid-August.
Speaking to journalists on Saturday, January 15, 2022, Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for Afghanistan’s government and deputy minister of culture and information, said the group’s education department would open classrooms for all girls and women in the Afghan New Year, which starts on March 21.
Although the Taliban has not officially banned girls’ education, the group’s fighters have shuttered girls’ secondary schools and barred women from public universities in some parts of the country.
Girls in most of Afghanistan have not been allowed back to school beyond grade 7 since the Taliban takeover and reversing that has been one of the main demands of women’s rights activists and the international community for months.
Education for girls and women “is a question of capacity,” Mujahid said in the interview. “We are trying to solve these problems by the coming year,” so that schools and universities can open, he added.
The international community, reluctant to formally recognize a Taliban-run administration, is wary that the group could impose harsh measures similar to its previous rule 20 years ago. At the time, women were banned from education, work, and public life.
“We are not against education,” Mujahid stressed, speaking at the culture and information ministry in Kabul.
“In many provinces, the higher classes (girls’ school) are open, but in some places where it is closed, the reasons are economic crisis and the framework, which we need to work on in areas which are overcrowded. And for that we need to establish the new procedure,” he said.
Girls older than grade 7 have been allowed back to classrooms in state-run schools in about a dozen of the country’s 34 provinces.