Girls over the age of 10 have been banned from attending primary school in Afghanistan in the latest edict issued by the Taliban-led Ministry of Education.
Taliban leaders met with school principals in certain provinces and told them strictly that “any girl over 10 years of age is not allowed to study in primary schools.” The Taliban had previously allowed girls up until sixth grade to attend school. But now girls above third grade are prevented from even entering school premises.
The Taliban has a long history of restricting women’s education, dating back to the first regime during the late 1990s. After the takeover of the government two years ago, they banned girls from attending secondary schools, only allowing males to return to high schools. In December 2022, they extended the ban to university women. The United Nations has criticized the Taliban for increasing restrictions on education and employment for girls and women.
This latest draconian rule is part of an effort at the hands of the de facto authorities to systematically erase women and girls from society. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls and women cannot legally attend school.
Meanwhile, the Taliban seeks to completely rehaul Afghanistan’s education system, by placing their officials in charge at the in education departments and at universities. Religious institutions have been increased and more religious subjects are incorporated into the curricula. Before women were banned from higher education, there were strict rules imposed on male and female students regarding conduct and appearance. Women had to dress and behave a certain way, facing far more obstacles than men.
Throughout the country there has been an increase in madrassas, religious learning institutions, and plans are in place to construct thousands more. In addition to teaching religious studies, jihadi madrassas have been used as centers for training suicide bombers and weapon use. Political analysts expressed concerns that the establishment of madrassas would fuel extremism among youth. While religious education is not always negative, these institutions follow the Taliban’s interpretation of religious text and mindset that focuses on war, killing, violence, and hate.
Outlook India 08/06/2023; Afghanistan Analysts Network July 2023;