Afghan new school year begins with more than 1 million girls barred from education

Today marks the beginning of the school year in Afghanistan, with over two million students expected to enroll, representing a significant increase from previous years. However, amidst the excitement, concerns arise over the Taliban’s stance on girls’ education.

Taliban officials, at the opening ceremony held at Amani High School near the presidential palace, emphasized the importance of improving religious and modern sciences. the Taliban’s education minister, Habibullah Agha, stressed the need for quality education to meet the nation’s needs, advocating for a diverse range of professions for students.


Students here, in makeshift classrooms without facilities, persevere in their studies despite challenges.

Despite discussions on education, notably absent was any mention of girls’ education. This marks the third consecutive year of girls being deprived of education, raising questions about their prospects.

The Taliban have implemented strict laws that restrict girls from receiving education after the sixth grade and prevent many women from working in public and private sectors. Additionally, female aid workers are prohibited from working with the United Nations and other aid organizations.

One of the individuals affected by the Taliban educational ban is a 14-year-old girl named Marwa. She fondly remembers her school days before the ban and possesses a strong passion for learning. However, like many others, she faces uncertainty regarding her future education, and her family is concerned about the limited options available. The government-run religious education centers, which may not provide a comprehensive education, are among the few choices.

Marwa’s mother proudly states that she loves to learn and performs exceptionally well in all subjects, especially science. She even achieved the top rank in her class. According to Marwa, “I could have pursued any career path I desired. However, in the last month of school last year, during the final exams of primary school, the head teacher entered the exam hall and informed the sixth-grade girls that they would not be able to continue their education beyond nine years.”

During a WhatsApp call, there was a moment of silence. Marwa spoke calmly, saying “I feel like I have buried my hopes in a dark cave.”


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Former President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani expressed his distress over the denial of girls’ education, highlighting its detrimental impact on the country’s future. He emphasized the importance of collective efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan.

“As the new school year commences, the issue of girls’ education remains a poignant concern, reflecting broader challenges in Afghanistan’s educational landscape,” said Ashraf Ghani in an audio message published on his X page.

The absence of girls from educational institutions has become a troubling trend, with over 1 million girls barred from attending schools, according to UNICEF.

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