The Taliban administration in Afghanistan has declared that the high school for girls in Afghanistan will be shut down, just hours after they reopened for the first time in almost seven months.

The backtracking practice of the Taliban means that female students who are over the age of sixth grade won’t be able to be enrolled in school.

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On Wednesday, a Ministry of Education notice said that girls› schools would be shut down until a strategy is developed in line with the Islamic laws and Afghan culture, as per Bakhtar News Agency, a state-run news agency.

«We inform all-girls ‹ high schools as well as schools with female students who are above the age of six that they are not allowed to attend until the next order is issued,» reads the notice.

«Yes, It’s true,» Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani said to AFP in response to a request to confirm the reports that the Taliban took girls home.

The official would not be able to explain the reason, but the minister of education spokesman Aziz Ahmad Rayan said: «We aren’t allowed to speak about this.»

«It’s extremely disappointing that girls who had been waiting to see this moment were have been forced the decision to leave school. This shows that the Taliban aren’t reliable and cannot keep their word,» Shukria Barakzai, an Afghan journalist, and politician in London spoke out.

«It means that high and secondary schools are not open to girls. In addition, primary schools aren’t accessible across the nation. The majority of provinces have no primary schools for girls,» Barakzai told Al Jazeera from London.

«It confirms how the Taliban is the exact same as before: they’re against girls and their education.»

A teacher shortage

The ministry of education acknowledged that authorities were facing a shortage of teachers, including many of the hundreds of thousands fleeing the nation after the Taliban took over after the administration headed by President Ashraf Ghani collapsed.

«We require thousands of teachers, and in order to address this issue, we are looking to recruit new teachers on an interim schedule,» the spokesman said.

Last week, the Ministry of Education announced that schools that cater to all students, including girls, will be open across the country on Wednesday – the very first day of Afghanistan’s brand-new school year, following months of education restrictions for girls who are in high school.

On Tuesday night, an official from the ministry released a video to congratulate the students who returned to school.

The AFP group was filming Zarghona High School in Kabul’s capital city when the teacher came in and announced that the class was finished.

Students who had been stricken by the Taliban, returning to schools for the first time in a while since the Taliban came to power in August last year, cried as they packed their belongings and then filed out.

Girls attend a class after their school reopening in Kabul on Wednesday [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]
«I observe my students crying and unwilling to go home,» said Palwasha, an instructor at the Omara Khan girl’s class in Kabul.

«It is extremely painful to watch your students crying.»

«We were all disappointed, and all of us were despairing when the principal informed us that she was in tears,» said a student who did not want to be identified for security reasons.

Female education

When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, they banned women’s education and most female jobs. After being reinstated in August, the Taliban have promised to provide women the opportunity to study and work.

International community members have made education of girls a crucial need for any acceptance by the Taliban administration, who assumed control of the country in August after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

United Nations envoy Deborah Lyons said that reports of the closure were «disturbing.»

«If it is true, what could be the cause?» she tweeted.

The Norwegian Refugee Council expressed ‹deep worries› about the government’s announcement.

«We anticipate to see the Taliban government allow all boys and girls throughout the entire country to complete their education, in accordance with the previous assurances that they’ve given,» Jan Egeland, the NRC Secretary-General, stated in a statement issued on Wednesday.

When the Taliban came into power in August, all schools were closed because of the COVID-19 virus; however, only girls and younger boys were allowed to return to classes after two months.

The Taliban have repeatedly stated that they want to ensure that girls› schools between 12-19 are separate and operated by Islamic guidelines.

The Taliban have placed a variety of women’s restrictions and women, effectively excluding women from many jobs in the government and policing their clothes, and prohibiting them from traveling out of their cities on their own.

Even if schools reopen completely, obstacles for girls returning to school remain in place, with many families being worried about the Taliban and unwilling to let their daughters leave.

Others think there is no need for girls to take classes at all.

«Those women who completed their studies have found themselves in a home, and their prospects are uncertain,» said Heela Haya, 20 years old from Kandahar. She has decided to leave school.

«What do we expect to see in the future?»

Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about the lack of ways girls can use their knowledge.

«Why do families like your members make massive sacrifices to pursue your studies if you will never achieve the career you’ve always wanted?» said Sahar Fetrat, an assistant researcher in the group.

The Taliban had insisted it wanted to ensure schools for girls aged 12 to 19 were segregated and would operate according to Islamic principles [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]

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