For the first time since it took over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban has opened some public universities, a step towards meeting the international demand of right to education, one of the prime conditions need to have hopes of getting global recognition for the current administration.
While some public universities were reopened in Afghanistan, the attendance of women was very limited. The Taliban have said that women will be allowed to come to universities, as a segregated set-up will be maintained based on gender.
“It is a moment of joy for us that our classes have started,” said Zarlashta Haqmal, a law and political science student at Nangarhar University.
“But we are still worried that the Taliban might stop them”, he added, expressing fear of continuity of the initiative under the Taliban government.
In the first phase, universities in Laghman, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Nimroz, Farah and Helmand provinces have been opened, while more are scheduled to be opened in the coming days.
Even though the reopening of universities is a positive step, it seems that education under the Taliban leadership has come with some visible requirements and conditions.
Women, who were seen going to the universities were wearing a full-body covered burqa, while the men, who attended the universities were seen wearing traditional tunics aka Salwar Kameez. The university gates were guarded by Taliban fighters, while a machine gun, mounted on a tripod rested on the entrance gate.
The other noteworthy difference was the attitude of those who were seen attending the universities. Most of them were not comfortable in sharing their thoughts about the reopening of the universities, while many said that they had been warned to not speak to the media.
The media was also barred from entering inside the university campuses.
Under the Taliban rule in the past, during its first rule from 1996 to 2001, all educational institutions for girls were shut down.
A similar approach seemed to be in practice since August 2021, when Taliban stormed back to power.
omen and girls have been barred from education under the Taliban rule in the past. The same fears still loom of women may again
However, the Taliban leadership maintains that they do not have any objection to education to women, but added that they want classes to be segregated and the curriculum based on Islamic principles.
“We were told that the classes will be held according to the Shariah law. I hope they keep all the courses because society needs them,” said Malik Samadi, a student of mathematics.
Khadija Azizi, a student at the Nangarhar University, said she was happy to return but expressed fear of failure to get provision of jobs under the Taliban regime.
“We are also sad because being political and law students, our future is at risk as we wont be able to get jobs under this regime… It is no more pleasant for us because we have lost hope for our future,” she added.
But the Taliban initiative to reopen universities is being appreciated broadly.
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan sated that reopening of universities was an important step as it offered equal access to education for all.
“The reopening of public universities would bode well for the return of girls to school around the country,” said Andrew Watkins from US Institute of Peace.
“This is the Taliban taking a step that would be a critical market in moving closer towards recognition,” he added.