As the new academic year started in Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to maintain its ban on female students attending classes in high school. According to Taliban’s Education Minister, Habibullah Agha, the highest grade level open for female students is the sixth grade.
The Taliban, which is the ruling government and operates under a hardline Islamic theology, took over the country when U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of all American military personnel in August 2021.
Al Jazeera English interviewed several young women about the high school ban. One said that girls can only attend Islamic schools called madrassas, but that does not “help me become a doctor, because that’s done in school.”
Another interviewee, a tenth grader, said that she daydreamed “all the time” about going back to high school classes.
Allegedly, Afghanistan is both the only Muslim-majority country which bans women’s education and is the only country in the world that bans high school education for women.
United Nations official, Catherine Russell, said that the education bans are “absolutely crushing” for women. Russell is the executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of the country, literacy rates apparently doubled under the government backed by the U.S. and other Western allies.
The Taliban government is not officially recognized as the legitimate government of Afghanistan because of its refusal to allow women to go back to classes in high school and university. It is why that not a single country in the world has recognized the Taliban almost two years after it seized power.
As Accuracy in Academia reported since 2021, the Taliban has gradually restricted options for girls to receive an education beyond middle school. The Taliban first banned high school classes for female students in March 2022 and then banned university education for women in December 2022. AIA has consistently noted that the Taliban’s suppression of female independence is another stark reminder of Biden’s deadly and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, which resulted in chaotic evacuations and a deadly terrorist attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. military servicemembers. The Biden administration has not publicly declared how many Americans or Afghan allies were trapped in Afghanistan and has not acknowledged whether the U.S. government was able to extract them safely.