Courageous Afghan girls defy Taliban’s ban to study in secret schools

One of these secret schools is operated by a 21-year-old girl Nazanin from a house on the outskirts of Kabul. Her students, around ten in number, are almost of the same age as her.

Jul 13, 2022
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Courageous Afghan girls defy Taliban’s ban to study in secret schools (Photo: Dawn)

Hundreds of determined Afghan girls are attending secret schools across different cities in Afghanistan, defying the ban the ultra-conservative ruling Taliban have imposed on girls’ secondary education. Despite repeated assurances and promises, the group hasn’t allowed secondary-level senior girls to attend schools.

Women in capital Kabul, Parwan and cities like Balkh and Herat are running these secret schools for girls, NPR reported, showing they have little faith in the Taliban’s promises of resuming classes for girls in the distant future, if at all.

One of these secret schools is operated by a 21-year-old girl Nazanin from a house on the outskirts of Kabul. Her students, around ten in number, are almost of the same age as her.

UNICEF estimates over 850,000 girls remain out of schools in the country since the Taliban came to power, dislodging the erstwhile US-government democratic government. In the last eleven months of their rule, the country sees a reversal in its hard-earned social and economic progress of the last two decades.

Women, among other vulnerable groups, are the worst affected, cut off from the mainstream and social life, and restrictions on them are only increasing by the day.

“When the Taliban said girls can't go to secondary school anymore, I thought to myself, 'what can I do?'," Nazanin was quoted as saying by NPR. "How can I raise the morale of the girls around me? She asked.

On March 23 this year, when the Taliban allowed girls' schools, a few senior Taliban leaders led by hardline clerics ordered the immediate suspension of their classes for an indefinite period. Since then, the group has failed to form a consensus on the issue.

In several places, girls' madrassas and religious centres are being used as secret schools. The ban is particularly on secondary-level girls from attending formal schools. These loopholes are being used as means to bypass the ban many see as extremely unjustified, prejudicial and discriminatory.

"If we follow the Taliban, we'd just stay home. No. We have to do something," Nazanin was quoted as saying.

Before August last year, several experts were of the opinion that the Taliban may have changed their hardline stances on some of the social policies like girls’ education and women’s right to work. But they were proved wrong.

(SAM)

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