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Afghanistan: Softening stand on girls education

EducationWorld April 11 | EducationWorld

Girls can attend separate schools provided students and teachers wear the hijab, and the curriculum and education environment are in keeping with religious and cultural values, Taliban commanders have recently informed elders in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban have told us that they are not against schools for girls, says Haji Nazar Mohammad, a tribal elder in the southern province of Kandahars Spin Boldak district.Local people in Marof, Daman and Panjwaye districts confirm they have received similar assurances from insurgents. The Taliban appear to be changing their attitude to female education, according to the ministry of education (MoE) which says theres been no opposition to reopening of dozens of schools in the past year. All Afghans, including those in armed opposition to the government, support education for children of this country and we see no opposition from anyone to girls education, says Abdul Sabour Ghofrani, an MoE spokesman in Kabul.
The Talibans self-proclaimed government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, has not publicly confirmed its policy shift. Girls were banned from education and women were prohibited from outdoor activities during Taliban rule in 1996-2001. If this is true, its a major step forward and we truly welcome it, says Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict.
We have reopened 52 schools in different parts of Kandahar province in the past 10 months and will soon reopen 50 additional schools in several districts in the very near future, says Najibullah Ahmadi, the provincial director of education. As schools reopen, thousands of girls have reportedly enroled in less than a year, says Ahmadi.
With the support of local councils and tribal elders, MoE officials say scores of schools have been reopened in several other insurgency-prone provinces countrywide. Hundreds of schools were shut down in 2007-2009 following a series of attacks, and over 400 schools are still dysfunctional, according to MoE.

(Excerpted and adapted from

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