Kabul, Mar 23 (EFE).- The Taliban Wednesday barred Class 7 to 12 girls from attending schools pending a decision on their uniform designs according to Islamic law, in a sudden departure from their earlier announcement that all Afghan females would be allowed to attend classes this week.
The fresh order to keep the secondary schools for girls closed came immediately after the institutions reopened in Afghanistan for the first time after the Islamists seized power in August last year.
“The secondary and high schools will be closed until further notice. The schools will start after the uniform is designed according to the Sharia law, Afghan customs, and culture,” said an education ministry statement.
The female head of a government secondary school for girls in Kabul told EFE that everyone was looking forward to the school reopening following the promises by the Taliban over the weekend.
“All students and teachers were very happy to return to school. But this morning I received a message from the district education authorities that girls between classes 7 and 12 (aged 12-18) should wait for another permission,” she said.
The news came as a setback to the Afghan girls, who were upbeat about returning to school after more than seven months of closure and uncertainty.
Alia, 16, told EFE she was “very excited to return to school” and to meet other students, teachers, and friends but now had to return in disappointment.
The United Nations special representative in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, too expressed her concern on Twitter over the “disturbing reports that female students above the sixth grade will not be invited back to school by the authorities.”
The international community has been pressurizing the Taliban to safeguard rights for all, especially women.
On Saturday, the Taliban government had announced that all girls would be allowed to return to schools in the country after the winter break on Wednesday.
“It is a pleasure to announce that all schools for boys and girls will start on Mar.23 as per the new procedure in line with Islamic law,” Aziz Ahmad Rehan, spokesperson of the education ministry, told EFE on Saturday.
The Islamists said they had temporarily shut schools for senior girls to “adapt” their education to Islamic or Sharia law, while the primary school had remained open for all.
Allowing girls of all ages to attend schools has been one of the most crucial demands set by the international community after the Islamists came to power.
The international community has demanded that the Taliban guarantee rights of all Afghans, especially women, to restore the flow of humanitarian aid into the war-battered country.
Last month, the Islamists reopened universities and allowed female students to attend classes.
But they have not allowed co-education as was the case earlier with government and private institutions.
The government has segregated the classroom timings based on the gender of the students.
The international community has closely followed the Taliban government, hoping that the new rulers would distance themselves from the hardline of the Islamist regime during its rule from 1996 to 2001.
The then Taliban rulers had banned girls from schools, and the women remained confined to their homes. EFE