Girls in southern Afghanistan, a former stronghold of the extremist Taliban, are facing stiff opposition to returning to school, according to the Boston Globe. Afghan officials and educators say that the enrollment of girls has generally been poor despite an aggressive door-to-door campaign to convince parents to enroll their children in school, according to the Globe. “I want my girls to get an education, but my husband won’t allow it,” said Bibi Jan, a mother of nine who is herself illiterate and who still wears the burqa. “I will never allow my girls to go to school. Islam says women should not be allowed outside. The boys need an education so they can work or serve the country but the girls will be married soon. They don’t need it,” said Mohibullah Zawuddin, a 30-year-old shopkeeper in Panjwai and father of two girls.
Under the repressive Taliban regime, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were prohibited from teaching – Afghan schools were reopened to women and girls in April. The number of students – male and female – has increased nationwide, a UNICEF survey released last month shows that 1.25 million children were already attending schools in 20 of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces. However, in the five southern provinces in Afghanistan only 16,604 girls are enrolled in classes out of a total of 159,159 students, according to UNICEF. In contrast, about 45 percent of school age girls in Kabul are enrolled in school, according to the Globe.