Girls of all ages permitted to study in religious schools: Taliban

The Taliban have been globally condemned for banning girls and women from education beyond sixth grade, including university
Read here | Credit: Edex Live
Read here | Credit: Edex Live

Afghan girls of all ages are permitted to study in religious schools, which are traditionally boys-only, a Taliban official said on Thursday, December 21, according to a PTI report.

To recall, a day earlier, the UN Special Envoy Roza Otunbayeva had told the Security Council and reporters that the United Nations was receiving “more and more anecdotal evidence” that girls could study at the Islamic schools known as madrassas.

However, Otunbayeva said it wasn't clear what constituted a madrassa, if there was a standardized curriculum that allowed modern education subjects, and how many girls were able to study in the schools.

The Taliban have been globally condemned for banning girls and women from education beyond sixth grade, including university.

Madrassas are one of the few options for girls after sixth grade to receive any kind of education, added PTI.

Mansor Ahmad, a spokesman at the Education Ministry in the Afghan capital Kabul, said that there are no age restrictions for girls at government-controlled madrassas. The only requirement is that girls must be in a madrassa class appropriate to their age.

“If her age is not in line with the class and (the age) is too high, then she is not allowed,” said Ahmad.

Madrassas have the same principles as schools and older women are not allowed in junior classes. Privately run madrassas have no age restrictions and females of all ages, including adult women, can study in these schools, according to Ahmad.

There are around 20,000 madrassas in Afghanistan, of which 13,500 are government-controlled. Private madrassas operate out of mosques or homes, said Ahmad.

He did not give details on how many girls are studying in the country's madrassas or if this number increased after the bans.

Otunbayeva addressed the Security Council on the first anniversary of the Taliban banning women from universities.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education.

Afghanistan's Higher Education Minister, Nida Mohammed Nadim, said last December that the university ban was necessary to prevent the mixing of genders and because he believed a few subjects being taught violated the principles of Islam.

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