Afghanistan | Third start of school without the girls

(Kabul) The start of the school year took place on Wednesday in Afghanistan, a third start without girls in secondary school from where they were banned by the Taliban authorities.

The Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday that the start of the school year for primary and secondary schools would take place on Wednesday, the first day of the Afghan calendar year.

Less than a year after their return to power, the Taliban banned Afghan women from taking secondary education courses in March 2022.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world where education for girls after primary school has been banned.

Online alternatives exist, but they are reserved for adolescent girls with Internet access and do not prevent them from falling behind boys academically, while desocializing them.

The Taliban authorities have imposed an ultra-rigorous interpretation of Islam of which women are the primary targets, in the name of a policy decried by the United Nations as being “gender apartheid”.

“The school year (…) will begin in all provinces when the bell rings at a ceremony” organized at the Amani school, in the capital Kabul, the Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday.

It is in this large Kabuli school that the school year in Afghanistan is traditionally launched.

Students in black and white uniforms stood in a row in front of the school entrance, holding small flags of the Islamic Emirate of the same colors, as local officials arrived, noted a photographer from the ‘AFP.

Coverage of this ceremony had been explicitly prohibited to female journalists by the Ministry of Education.

Public universities, from which women were banned in December 2022, have recently returned to school.

Women, now banned from sports, hammams, museums, parks or beauty salons, and whose access to employment has been very restricted, have gradually been erased from public space under the Taliban administration.

The question of the treatment of women is the major obstacle to diplomatic relations with the international community for Afghanistan, whose government is not recognized to date by any country.

“Half of society”

Zuhal Shirzad, aged 18, had to leave secondary school three years ago and is saddened by this return to school, which she should have done in final year, before preparing to enter university.

“I haven’t been able to go to school for almost three years. I came close to depression,” declared the young girl, interviewed in Kabul by AFP. “It’s very hard for me that boys my age study and I don’t. This is gender discrimination. »

But “I will never give up on my dreams,” she adds. “If schools do not reopen (to girls), I will continue to study online to one day become a businesswoman.”

Faiz Ahmad Nohmani, a 15-year-old who started third grade in a private school in Herat (west), is “really sorry that the girls are not coming to school.”

“Today when I arrived, I would have liked our sisters to also come to school, because they represent half of society,” he confided to AFP. But “they stayed at home. They should study like us.”

Ali Ahmad Mohammadi, an 18-year-old final year student also in Herat, is aware of how lucky he is to study.

“It helps us progress. A society of illiterates will always face stagnation,” says the teenager, who then hopes to enter university.


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