Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban takeover. Here, a Staff Correspondent for JURIST in Kabul reports on new restrictions on university education under Taliban rule. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding our Correspondent’s name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
The Taliban-led Ministry of Higher Education has recently re-opened the doors of universities to students and professors after nearly seven months of closure. However, this is contingent on students and universities across Afghanistan adhering to a set of new rules and procedures that violate freedom of speech.
The Ministry of Higher Education’s new procedure is in direct contravention of existing Afghan laws and regulations. The procedure, in particular, prohibits students and professors from discussing or publishing information about their universities to local and foreign media. They are not permitted to speak to the media about academic obstacles or the learning environment.
The procedure applies to both governmental and private universities. Previously, private universities were ordered to implement new policies that separated male and female students, required male professors to teach only male students and female professors to teach only female students, and allowed old male professors to enter female classrooms in the absence of female professors. It seems that all of the above is now codified in one procedure and sent to public universities across Afghanistan.
Additionally, students from Baghlan and Badakhshan universities also tell local media that they are instructed not to use smartphones inside the university compound. Kunduz and Al Biruni university professors have also been warned not to share anything on social media.
Kabul university students and professors are also instructed to comply with the above.
The education sector of Afghanistan has been adversely affected since the seizure of power by the Taliban in August last year. A large number of professors either left their jobs or left Afghanistan for a safer country. With this being said, there are reports that the number of students in both public and private universities have considerably decreased. Local media report that higher education in private universities is actually on the verge of collapse due to the absence of professors as well as students.