Top UNHCR official voices concerns over closed girls’ schools

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Kelly T. Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concerns over the closing of girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

Clements paid a visit to the western province of Herat, where she visited a girls’ school.

“Girls in school – women as full participants in the economic development of Afghanistan – millions of women & girls need the space to engage, contribute & lead. I saw some of that potential today in Herat. Despite everything, they have hope. We do too,” Clements said on Twitter.

This comes as female students said that education is their basic right and urged the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools beyond grade six for girls.

An education center which is teaching girls from grade 1-12 has been established on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul. The students and teachers at the education center are women (The name of the education center has been withheld due to the sensitivity of the issue).

“It is unjust that the Taliban are not allowing us to go to the school because Almighty God said in the Koran that education is mandatory for men and women,” said Raihana Noori, a student.

“I came here to study and will never give up on education because I want to have a bright future,” said Samira, a student.

There are a total of 300 female students in the education center.

“We have approximately 313 students. We have various sections here. Computers, tailoring, miniature-painting–and since the Islamic Emirate came to power the number of students has surged,” said a teacher.

“We support them in continuing their education and we request that the Islamic Emirate reopens the schools for girls,” the head of the education center said.

It has been over 270 days that the girls’ school above grade six have remained closed in Afghanistan.

Earlier, the Islamic Emirate said it is working on a plan to facilitate the reopening of the schools but there has yet to be any progress in this regard.

Islamic scholars at a gathering in the western province of Badghis urged the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools for female students in grades 6-12.

A gathering was held on Monday evening to inaugurate the council of Ulema in Badghis.

“We should try to facilitate a good life for our sisters in every area. Education is one of the important issues,” said Mawlawi Ramazan, an Islamic scholar.

“The doors of the schools should be reopened for girls in addition to the boys so our sisters can earn a necessary education,” said Mawlawi Muhaiddin, a religious scholar.

They said that both boys and girls have the right to take modern and religious education.

“The Almighty Allah made education mandatory for men and women,” said Abddulraziq, an Islamic scholar.

“If (girls) study within a Sharia hijab, there is no problem because the society needs the education of men and women,” said Mawlawi Isar, a religious scholar.

Some residents of Badghis called for the reopening of girls’ school beyond grade six.

“Girls have attempted to study until grade seven but are deprived of an education and the doors of schools are closed before them and they cannot go to university,” said Abdul Wahid, a resident of Badghis. The Islamic Emirate has said it is working on a plan to facilitate the reopening of girls’ schools above grade six.—Tolonews

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