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In the line of promises: It is time to chant “Let Afghan Girls Learn”

The equality of education is a must for a country especially like Afghanistan, being engaged in war for almost 20 years. Foreign aid is compulsory for the revitalizing the educational infrastructure in Afghanistan.

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Meer Hamayoun
Meer Hamayoun
Studying International Relations at School of Politics and International Relations in Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

One year ago, the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan with some promises and commitments. Among those promises, one was to allow girls’ education in Afghanistan. But after a year, they could not let the Afghan girls return to school and the promises remained unfulfilled. With every passing day, the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, especially since the education sector is suffering a lot.

On Friday, 30th of September, bomb blasts at an education centre in Kabul, where students were taking a preparatory exam. I have seen a picture on social media, which depicts a boy, who was sitting outside the ICU in a hospital with the school bag of his injured sister due to the suicide blast. According to reports, mostly the girls were victims of today’s blast. This was the most devastating picture, I have seen so far. Since the Taliban takeover, the education sector in Afghanistan has gone to collapse almost. The spokesman of the Taliban’s government, Zabhiullah Mujahid affirmed that students would be allowed to attend their schools but the girls under seven years will only be allowed to attend the schools. The women in Afghanistan are even not allowed to work. Most of the women have lost their jobs.

In the past, the education sector in Afghanistan has mostly relied on foreign aid. In the last twenty years, more than 9 million children have been enrolled in schools. But still, about 4 million children are out of school among which half of the strength accounts for girls. The education sector is the main engine for the country’s progress and is the only way forward for a country to compete in the world’s run. The last year has been very critical for the Afghan people. According to a report by UNHCR, 23 million Afghans could go through severe starvation and nine million people are on the brink of famine. In these defying times, many Afghan families could be forced to choose survival over education. The quality and quantity of education in Afghanistan were not good already but now it’s dropping at a far more dangerous level than ever before. During the war, many schools have been bombed and many have been used for military purposes in Baghlan in 2016 and in Kunduz many schools have been destroyed as a result of US air strikes.  

With the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2021, many employees fled Afghanistan but the teachers stayed there realizing their importance and responsibility in rebuilding the already war-torn Afghanistan. About one-third of those Afghan teachers in Afghanistan have not been paid their salaries for the last six months, which is the only source of their livelihood. These conditions depict the future crises in Afghanistan being more vulnerable for the people of Afghanistan in 2022. In this regard, international funds are urgently needed for the uplift crises, especially in the education sector. The international actors must work in close coordination with the Afghan government to divert the challenges as much as possible. The salaries of teachers must be generously paid by international organizations and the education infrastructure should be revitalized in Afghanistan.

Some statements issued by Afghan officials about gender segregation in education are another step toward girls’ education collapse. This is also a vulnerable situation threatening girls’ education. But the cultural restrictions on girls’ education are another serious hurdle in Afghanistan. Returning girls to educational institutions is not only a prior demand of the Afghan people but a main driving force behind the development of the country. Cultural restrictions are another major cause inhibiting girls’ education in some southern provinces even before the Taliban government. The banking crises in the country have complicated the normal flow of education.

The equality of education is a must for a country especially like Afghanistan, being engaged in war for almost 20 years. Foreign aid is compulsory for the revitalizing the educational infrastructure in Afghanistan. The sanctions on Afghanistan should be eased down and the frozen assets of Afghanistan must be released in order to cope with the challenges in Afghanistan. In the end of December last year, some Afghan women have held a peaceful protest, demanding their fundamental rights and seeking access to education and equality in all fields. I spoke to one of the Afghan students through social media and I inquired about the education in Afghanistan, she categorically said that the Taliban government has banned them to attend the universities.

Finally, the Taliban must show some softness toward girls’ education. The promises which the Taliban have made in Doha Agreement must be fulfilled and Afghan girls must be allowed to learn. It will not only support the country but can also prove to be fruitful for the wide acceptance of their government among the people. Every civilized person in the civil society should chant “LET AFGHAN GIRLS LEARN

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Meer Hamayoun
Meer Hamayoun
Studying International Relations at School of Politics and International Relations in Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.
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