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 the Taliban closure of Afghan universities to women. 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 Cabinet has voted to ban women from pursuing higher education in public and private universities, according to an official letter from the Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education to public and private universities released Tuesday.
After a twenty-year conflict with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its allies, including the USA and NATO, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan more than a year ago. Since then the Taliban’s policies are shaping the life of the Afghan people. The Taliban think they are the only always-righteous rulers because of their strict application of their interpretation of sharia law. Such sharia law interpretation has led to Afghan citizens losing some of the public’s fundamental rights, especially education, employment, social equality, but also many more.
Taliban members, on the other hand, have been offered numerous opportunities to integrate into society. This has included their hiring into government organizations even though, for the most part, none of them actually possess the necessary skills and knowledge. Based on the Taliban’s previous and recent statements, there is no actual test for the Taliban hired into government organizations. According to the Taliban’s minister of higher education, taking exams is disrespectful to the Taliban. He continued by stating that the Taliban fighters’ academic ranking should be determined by the number of mines they planted in Afghanistan during the previous 20 years.
Such statements raise profound concerns over the future of education in Afghanistan. The education sector of the country has already witnessed huge damage since the Taliban gained power in August 2021. Since then the education sector has been adversely affected by the following:
- a severe shortage of professors and academic staff in Afghanistan’s public and private universiies;
- the Taliban have segregated classrooms in universities by gender, and boys and girls study in separate classes;
- male and female professors are also separated;
- boys and girls attend universities on different days of the week;
- the ministry of higher education is instructed to revise the curriculum for universities;
- and now, a ban preventing women from going to universities that has shocked the people of the country
Furthermore, according to some official statements the minister of higher education has said that girls’ education is in the “Western style” and against Islam and Afghan values. The Taliban have not fulfilled their promise to allow girls 12-18 to return to the classroom. This means that at least 20% of the current population is not allowed the right to education in Afghanistan. The contemporary educational system is not something the Taliban are interested in and they see it as something that isolates Muslims from Islam.
At the same time the Taliban have been opening religious training facilities (Madrasas) around Afghanistan. According to a report by the BBC, construction of mosques and Madrasas in different regions of Afghanistan has become a competition between Taliban commanders. According to the Taliban’s ministry of education, this ministry plans to build one Madrasa in the center of each province and three to ten Madrasas in the districts of each province. Most of the time, such establishments demand significant financial resources, which the Taliban commanders lack. But this group is attempting to obtain financial support from wealthy individuals and business leaders to assist them pay for these facilities. No one knows how these Madrasas are regulated and what actually the curriculum of such Madrasas looks alike. It is also reported that the Taliban train suicide attackers and train people on terrorism in such Madrasas. Suicide attackers and many of Taliban soldiers graduated from Madrasas which were mainly in south Afghanistan during the last two decades but it is spreading all over the country now.