Taliban-Led Afghanistan: Female & Male Students Divided By Curtains In Classrooms As New Term Begins

Afghanistan Asia Higher Education News by Erudera News Sep 08, 2021

Afghan students

Universities in Afghanistan, now controlled by the Taliban, began the new semester with curtains separating women students from men in the classroom. Photos obtained by Reuters in social media show women students are wearing hijabs while being divided from men by three gray curtains, Erudera.com reports.

Afghan students attending class at Avicenna University in Kabul, on September 6, 2021 – Picture obtained by Reuters from social media.

“Putting up curtains is not acceptable. I really felt terrible when I entered the class. We are gradually going back to 20 years ago,” the 21-year-old student of Kabul University Anjila told Reuters by telephone.

Anjila further said that female students and their male peers sat separately even before the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan; however, students were not divided by curtains in the class.

As universities were preparing to resume classes for the new semester on Monday, for the first time since the Taliban’s return to power, the latter ordered women attending universities to cover their faces and bodies by wearing a hijab according to the Sharia law. 

A proposal submitted by Afghanistan’s union of universities, representing 131 colleges, which has been approved by The Taliban-led Ministry of Education, foresees separate entrances for female and males students at Afghan universities. In addition, according to the document, female students must be taught only by female teachers separately or in classrooms divided by curtains. In some cases they can also be taught by “old men of good character.”

“In the future the universities should try to hire female professors for female students. In the meantime, efforts should be made to appoint elderly professors who are well-known for being trustworthy to teach female students,” the proposal notes.

The vice-chancellor of the private Bakhtar University in Kabul, Waheed Roshan, stressed that the university would adhere to the requirements, but added that he fears there may be some colleges that will find the proposal very challenging. 

Roshan told CNN that 20 percent of some 2,000 students pursuing higher education at Bakhtar University are women, emphasizing that the university could hold classes in shifts.

Foreign countries have said that they will be monitoring the situation at universities and schools across Afghanistan, as they want the Taliban to respect women’s rights to education for maintaining diplomatic relations. Over the past weeks, the Taliban guaranteed that women’s rights would be respected in accordance with Islamic law; nevertheless, they did not give any details in this regard.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, women and girls were banned from university and work. They were allowed to continue education only after the US forces entered Afghanistan in 2001.

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