Reopening of Afghan Universities: Small Number of Female Students Attend Classes

Afghan women

The Taliban has reopened public universities on Wednesday (February 2) for the first time since taking control of Afghanistan in August. It was uncertain if female students would be allowed to attend classes as the Taliban did not offer any details on the matter, Erudera.com reports.

However, although the Taliban government has not officially stated if female students have joined their male fellows, education officials told Reuters that women have been permitted to return to classes on the condition that they should take separate lessons from male students.

The second-largest university in Afghanistan, Nangarhar University, has also reopened on Wednesday, where a Reuters witness has seen some female students entering through a separate entrance.

Zarlashta Haqmal, who studies law and political science at Nangarhar University, told AFP that students continue to worry that the Taliban could stop classes again.

“It’s a moment of joy for us that our classes have started. But we are still worried that the Taliban might stop them,” Haqmal said.

In addition to public universities, some private universities have also reopened in Afghanistan, but most often, female students have not been allowed to return.

The decision to reopen universities this Wednesday came after calls of the global community towards the Taliban to respect the human rights of all people in Afghanistan, particularly women’s rights, as the Taliban continues to seek more international assistance.

On Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, also urged the return of female students at public universities in the country.

“Let’s all support the return of Afghan young female and male students to the universities across Afghanistan. Supporters can consider a range of scholarship programs and ongoing support to female and male professors,” Lyons wrote in a Tweet.

Last week, the Taliban also announced that universities in colder areas in Afghanistan will reopen from February 26. The administration had said that girl schools would reopen by the end of March.

Afghan public universities were closed after the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021 after the US troops had left Afghanistan.

Last year, the Taliban-appointed new chancellor of the Kabul University, Mohammad Ashraf Ghaira, said that women will not be permitted to work or attend university if there isn’t a real Islamic environment for all.

The Taliban also banned women from government jobs. So far, no country has recognized the Taliban government.

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