The closing of schools for girls from grades 7-12 faced strong reactions by the international community including the UN.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said that the “failure by Taliban authorities to reopen schools for girls above 6th grade is profoundly disappointing and damaging for Afghanistan.”
“The start of the new school year has been anticipated by all students, girls and boys, and parents and families,” Guterres said in a statement.
The Islamic Emirate earlier announced that it would reopen all schools for male and female students across the country but on Wednesday—the first day of the school year—students beyond grade six were not allowed to attend their schools and were told to remain at their homes until further notice.
“The denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls – beyond their equal right to education, it leaves them more exposed to violence, poverty and exploitation,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“This is a major setback for children across Afghanistan and UNICEF is deeply worried about the impact of this decision on girls, on their learning and mental health,” said Sam Mort, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Civic Engagement of UNICEF Afghanistan.
US Secretary Antony Blinken reacted to the closing of schools for girls above grade sixth and called education a basic human right. “The United States rejects the Taliban’s excuses for reversing their commitment to the people of Afghanistan that all Afghans would be able to return to school at all levels today,” he said.
In addition to Afghan politicians and world officials, people close to the government also suggested that education is a fundamental right of humans.
“The girls must be immediately allowed to go to school. Education is an Islamic, human and fundamental (right),” said Malala Yousafzai, an education rights activist.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said on Thursday that it sent a plan for the Prime Minister’s approval about the education of girls in grades 7-12.
However, female students beyond grade 6 were prohibited from entering their schools, or were ordered to leave their classes hours after the schools reopened.
“When I came to school in the early morning, I was so happy, I saw our principal was crying, I did not know the reason. After that, all the students were crying,” said Uranus, a student.
Officials referred to issues related to female dress as a reason for the closed schools.
“We are wearing Hijab, We do not know what kind of Hijab they are talking about?,” said Malalai, a student.
TOLOnews spoke with female students from Kabul and other cold climate provinces who were banned from attending classes.
“They claim to be an Islamic country, they say we are the Islamic Emirate; so, they have to act based on the sayings of the Great Messenger of Islam, as he says, both women and men have the right to learn,” said Malika, a student.
They urged the Islamic Emirate’s leadership to let female students continue their education.
Without naming a clear date, the Ministry of Education announced Wednesday that girls’ secondary schools would remain closed until further notice.—Agencies