Girls higher education is a must for Afghanistan future

By World Vision

Girls higher education is a must for Afghanistan future

Secondary school-aged girls across Afghanistan are reeling from the shock of being banned from returning to class, even though thousands of them were already going to school, says the international humanitarian agency, World Vision.

The nationwide ban was suddenly enforced by the Taliban, impacting all secondary-aged girls across the country. It means that in provinces where girls were already permitted to attend secondary schools – as well as other provinces where they were expecting to return to school for the first time after the winter break – girls are banned from the classroom.

Asuna Charles, National Director of World Vision Afghanistan, said: “This is absolutely heartbreaking for girls. Girls were either expecting to return to secondary school after the winter break or hoping to go for the first time since the Taliban control of the country last August. But suddenly all secondary school girls were told they could not attend. We urge the country’s leaders to swiftly reverse this decision and treat girls like their brothers who are all allowed to attend school.”

In recent months, the Ministry of Education had stated that all girls and boys would be returning to school. But the decision was reversed and many girls only found out on arrival at their schools.

Ms. Charles said: “It’s a basic human right for girls to attend school and one that the international humanitarian community will continue to press the authorities to implement.”

She said that prior to the decision to bar girls from 6th grade and above, provinces had a varied approach to girls’ secondary education, with most provinces where World Vision works in the west of the country, permitting it.

She said she had met numerous girls who wanted to be doctors, teachers and leaders, and teachers who wanted to contribute to the development of Afghanistan. Many families had made immense sacrifices to ensure their daughters attended school when otherwise they might be laboring or married off as children, or confined to the home and managing the household.

Before the Taliban came to power, the country had made significant advances in educating girls. Four in 10 girls were in primary school, up from almost zero 20 years before. In 2018, 380,000 students were enrolled in higher education. Of these, 90,000 were girls. In 2001, only around 5,000 girls were in higher education.