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Under Taliban Afghan schoolgirls end school at sixth grade

December 26, 2023

On December 11, 13-year-old Bahara Rustam attended her final class at Bibi Razia School in Kabul, acknowledging that under Taliban rule, the prospect of returning to a classroom is dim.

In September 2021, following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban declared that girls could not pursue education beyond the sixth grade. This ban was extended to universities in December 2022, despite global criticism and warnings about its impact on the Taliban’s legitimacy.

UN special envoy Roza Otunbayeva recently expressed concern about a generation of Afghan girls falling behind every passing day. An Education Ministry official stated last week that Afghan girls, of all ages, are permitted to study in madrassas, traditionally reserved for boys. However, Otunbayeva emphasized uncertainty regarding a standardized curriculum that includes modern subjects.

Bahara clings to her education, studying textbooks at home. Reflecting on the lack of a graduation ceremony, she expressed disappointment, stating, “Graduating (from sixth grade) means we are going to seventh grade,” echoing the sentiments of her saddened classmates.

In another part of Kabul, 13-year-old Setayesh Sahibzada contemplates an uncertain future, lamenting her inability to attend school and pursue her dreams.

“I can’t stand on my own two feet,” Setayesh said. “I wanted to be a teacher. But now I can’t study, I can’t go to school.”

Analyst Muhammad Saleem Paigir warns that excluding women and girls from education will be disastrous for Afghanistan, emphasizing the essential role of literacy in achieving freedom and prosperity. The Taliban’s restrictions extend beyond education, confining women to their homes by barring them from public spaces and most jobs.

Also read: Taliban use water cannon on women protesting university ban

Posted in International, News
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