KABUL, Afghanistan – In a recent statement, an education official revealed that Afghan universities are prepared to readmit female students, but the final decision lies in the hands of the Taliban’s leader. The ban on women attending universities was imposed by the Taliban last December, sparking global outrage. Earlier, girls were also prohibited from pursuing education beyond sixth grade, making Afghanistan the only country in the world to enforce such restrictions.
The Higher Education Minister of Afghanistan, Nida Mohammed Nadim, justified the university ban by citing concerns about gender mixing and the potential violation of Islamic principles through certain subjects taught. The ban, issued by Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada from Kandahar, remains in effect until further notice.
Molvi Abdul Jabbar, an adviser at the Higher Education Ministry, stated that universities are fully prepared to reopen for female students once Akhundzada gives the order to lift the ban. However, there is uncertainty surrounding the timing and likelihood of such a decision.
Jabbar shared that Akhundzada had issued the closure order for universities, and they complied accordingly. He emphasized that once the leader declares universities open, they will resume operations immediately. Jabbar expressed confidence in the support of Taliban leaders and ministers in favor of restarting girls’ education. He had last met Akhundzada around seven or eight years ago, having fought alongside him during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and remained a member of the Taliban for nearly three decades.
The education adviser’s comments shed light on the diverging opinions within the Taliban regarding decision-making processes and the authority wielded by Akhundzada. While some reports suggest internal division, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid swiftly dismissed them, underscoring Akhundzada’s power and influence over the Taliban.
Minister Nadim had previously presented the ban as a temporary measure, citing the need to address concerns related to gender segregation, course materials, and dress codes. He had assured the reopening of universities for women as soon as these issues were resolved. Similar promises were made regarding high school access for girls, with the Taliban vowing to resume classes once technical matters regarding uniforms and transportation were resolved. However, girls continue to be denied access to classrooms.
Jabbar mentioned that everything is in place for the education sector, including schools and universities, with potential adjustments in schedule to accommodate gender segregation. For instance, there might be separate timings for boys and girls or alternate schedules for male and female students.
As the second anniversary of the Taliban’s return to power approaches, the fate of women’s education in Afghanistan remains uncertain. The decision rests firmly in the hands of the Taliban leader, leaving universities and female students eagerly awaiting his directive.
Q: Who issued the ban on female students in Afghan universities?
A: The ban on female students in Afghan universities was issued by Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Q: Will Afghan universities reopen for women once the ban is lifted?
A: Yes, universities are fully prepared to readmit female students once Taliban leader Akhundzada gives the order to lift the ban.
Q: Are there conflicting opinions within the Taliban regarding the education ban?
A: Reports suggest diverging opinions within the Taliban regarding decision-making processes. However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has denied these reports, emphasizing Akhundzada’s authority.
Q: What were the reasons stated for the ban on female education?
A: The Taliban cited concerns about gender mixing and potential violations of Islamic principles through certain subjects being taught.
Q: What changes are being made to address the concerns raised by the Taliban?
A: Afghan authorities aim to resolve issues related to gender segregation, course materials, and dress codes to ensure the reopening of universities for female students.
Q: How long has Molvi Abdul Jabbar been associated with the Taliban?
A: Molvi Abdul Jabbar has been a member of the Taliban for 27 years, having fought alongside Taliban leader Akhundzada during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.