The Taliban say that Muslim clerics will meet to decide on the reopening of schools for girls above sixth grade as pressure mounts on the group to allow girls’ secondary education in Afghanistan.
The Taliban spokesperson for the ministry of education, Aziz Ahmad Rayan, told VOA on Friday that clerics have been “given the duty” to reach a consensus on girls’ secondary education.
A senior Taliban member, Anas Haqqani, told a gathering in the southeastern province of Khost on Wednesday that an assembly of Muslim clerics will be called to settle the issue of girls’ schools, without mentioning the exact date for convening the gathering.
“The scholars would have meetings and consultations on the issue after Eid. Then this will be finalized, and there is much hope, God willing, that these meetings would have a positive result,” said Rayan.
According to Save the Children, about 80% of secondary school girls are barred from attending school. The Taliban backed off at the last moment from a promise to reopen secondary schools for girls in March.
“The majority of secondary schoolgirls – about 850,000 out of 1.1 million – are not attending classes,” the report said.
The Taliban, who returned to power in August 2021, have imposed strict restrictions on women in Afghanistan, including the ban on girls’ secondary education.
Before the Taliban’s takeover, Afghan women made some achievements. About 3.5 million girls, out of roughly 9 million students, were going to school. About 30% of the civil servants and around 28% of parliamentarians were women.
Afghan women’s rights activists in Afghanistan and around the world have been protesting against the Taliban’s takeover, which has curbed the rights and freedoms they won over the last 20 years.
The Taliban, however, have said that they are not against girls’ education and that they are working on a plan to reopen the schools in accordance with Islamic law.
In an interview with VOA’s Afghan service, Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s diplomatic office in Doha, Qatar, repeated that the group is committed to reopening girls’ secondary schools.
“We are working on it. Girls under the sixth grade are going to school. Universities are open. Female students are getting an education. This is a small issue, and it will be solved. But others should not use this as a political tool.”
But the pressure has been mounting on the Taliban to reopen girls’ secondary schools.
Afghan clerics and activists across the country have been calling on the Taliban to reopen girls’ secondary schools.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told VOA that the U.S., together with its partners and allies, has been discussing the reopening of girls’ secondary schools with the Taliban.
“We call on the Taliban to overcome whatever impediments exist to allow girls to access education at all levels and honor their commitment to the Afghan people,” said the spokesperson.