Many upset because Taliban did not accept the promise of girls’ education

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A news presenter on Afghanistan’s Tolo TV cried as she read the announcement. Pictures of girls crying after returning from school flooded social media. Support groups and many others were stunned.

The Taliban have so far refused to explain their decision to abruptly take a pledge to allow girls to go to school beyond the sixth grade. Schools were due to reopen for older girls on Wednesday, the start of the new school year.

The ban also did not prepare the Taliban-appointed Ministry of Education. In many places throughout Afghanistan, some girls in the upper grades returned to schools, only to be told to go home.

The move may have been designed to appease the Taliban’s hardline base, but it has come at the cost of further alienating the international community, which is reluctant to officially recognize Afghanistan’s new rulers, The Taliban will implement similarly harsh measures and sanctions – particularly limiting women’s rights to education and work – as they previously ruled the country in the late 1990s.

The United Nations children’s agency told The Associated Press on Thursday they were blinded by the announcement.

“I think yesterday was a very confusing day for all of us,” said Janet Vogelar, UNICEF’s head of education in Afghanistan.

“We were blind,” said Sam Mort, UNICEF’s head of communications in Afghanistan. “All the messages, all the action made us believe that schools are opening, and as we understand it, our counterparts in the Ministry of Education believe the same.”

Before the planned reopening, in remote and deeply conservative villages – where female teachers could not be available to educate girls – arrangements were made for older male teachers, who were considered acceptable, from sixth grade onwards. Arrangements were made to educate and educate all the girls. ,

Coincidentally or not, the Taliban leadership was summoned to southern Kandahar province on Wednesday amid rumors of a cabinet reshuffle, which was later dismissed. Still, the Taliban-appointed Prime Minister Hassan Akhund, a staunch leader, remains reports of the elderly’s declining health.

Since the Taliban seized power in mid-August during the last weeks of the chaotic withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, there have been reports of splits between Taliban leaders, drawing lines between fundamentalists and pragmatists.

It is unclear whether the Taliban may have contributed to Wednesday’s ban on how to rule the country, but Torek Farhadi, an analyst who has advised previous Afghan governments, called it a misfire.

Of the Taliban, he said, “they really messed up by not keeping their word.”

Afghanistan’s Penpath Volunteers, a group that works to promote education programs for all in rural areas, is planning to launch demonstrations against the Taliban ban, said the organization’s founder, Matiullah Vesa.

Started in 2009 by two brothers from a Taliban stronghold in southern Kandahar, the organization has secret schools and thousands of volunteers distribute school supplies across the country.

On Wednesday, 18-year-old sister Raihana Mirzakhail and 17-year-old Suriya Mirzakhail appeared in their Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi school in Kabul. Their teacher started reducing attendance for class XI, when another teacher came into the class and asked all the girls to go home.

“We were told that this is no longer our school,” Suriya said. “We got so disappointed.” He and his sister dreamed of going to university.

“They broke our hearts… We have nothing else to do at home,” Raihana said. “Other Islamic countries allow their boys and girls to be educated and that is why they have been able to progress.”

On Tolo TV, announcer Sebghat Sephar broke down on Wednesday as he interviewed former deputy higher education minister Soraya Paikin and rights activist Mehboba Siraj about the ban.

His voice broke, he wept and struggled to finish his question.

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Associated Press writer Rahim Faiz in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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