Published: 30th October 2021
High schools for girls in most Afghan provinces remain closed: UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan
UNICEF calls for opening schools, community-based education classes and universities to all girls and young women
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative in Afghanistan Salam Al-Janabi has said that the agency is waiting to see whether the Taliban will allow girls access to education in the country as high schools for girls in most provinces in Afghanistan remain closed. "When it comes to girls' education, UNICEF is waiting to see if the rhetoric will match the reality on the ground," the UNICEF representative said. "In most provinces, with the exception of five in the northern region, high schools for girls remain closed," Al-Janabi told Sputnik.
UNICEF calls for opening schools, community-based education classes and universities to all girls and young women, he added. "It is also important that teachers, both male and female, are trained, that they receive their monthly salaries, and that they are supported in their teaching," the representative said, adding that 38 per cent of the 9.5 million children in primary and secondary education in Afghanistan are girls.
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"By comparison, there were only 1 million children in the education system in 2001 and only 10 per cent of them were girls," Al-Janabi said. He added, "We cannot afford to lose the gains made in educating girls and women over the last two decades. We can only protect progress by continuing to ensure that the most disadvantaged girls complete primary and secondary education." The UNICEF representative pointed out that the Fund has a working relationship with the Taliban, which it had long before this current crisis, Sputnik reported.
"It is standard practice for UNICEF all over the world to work with government and anti-government elements wherever necessary to reach the children most in need," he said. "Engagement with armed actors enables UNICEF and other humanitarians to negotiate for the assurances and safeguards necessary for rapid, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access and to ensure that programs and resources reach their intended populations, according to their needs, and without diversion," he added.
Al-Janabi said a work plan was established in December to expand access to education into areas under Taliban control for all children, including for girls, Sputnik reported. "We hope to continue to build on this," he added. "We have been engaging constructively with the 'de facto authorities' at the local level through interlocutors and are engaging with them at all levels to reach the children we have been previously unable to with life-saving health services, education and more." The Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August and the US military ended its 20 years of military presence in the country.