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Afghan schoolgirl preparing to flee after Taliban bar girls from school

Afghan Taliban coming to power in August left several women fearful of right to education

A female high-school student, Rahela Nussrat, dreams of finding space in a university abroad because she feels she can’t pursue education under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

17-year-old Nussrat spoke with Al Jazeera on Wednesday and said she was preparing for English language exams so she could apply to universities abroad. She said she had little faith in the Taliban government, who said they wanted the youth more involved in the country but their policy of ‘temporarily’ barring girls from school, ran contrary to their claims.

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Youngsters were being driven out of Afghanistan due to Taliban’s stringent policies, she said. Nussrat furthered she had not been able to attend a single class since the Afghan Taliban came to power in August – a situation that left her in tears for the first time due to her gender.

The state of women’s access to education has predated Taliban due to a lack of school related infrastructure. According to a survey produced by the World Education Forum for UNESCO, close to half of school buildings were unusable in Afghanistan.

Ravaged by the US War on Terror, close to 60 percent of the total children have been out of schools since last year. Of those, 2.2 million were Afghan girls.

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Female accessibility to education is a right that has only worsened under the Taliban, said Nussrat. There is an uncertainty that pervades Taliban’s narrative that girls would be allowed to return to school once it was ‘safe’ to do so, said Nussrat.

Another female student, Aisha Khurram, who goes to Kabul University (KU), said that she had little hope Taliban would allow women participation in society. A former youth representative to the United Nations, Khurram has been irked by the gender segregation policies in university classrooms.

The Afghan Taliban had previously announced that women would be allowed to attend universities if they sat in women-only classrooms. Khurram said that she thought KU was progressive and inclusive of women, but her experiences proved otherwise.

Taliban’s gender segregation policy has been criticized intensely but Afghan education rights advocate Pashtana Durrani told Al Jazeera that separation was a norm already in many parts of Afghanistan. She added that segregation might be the key for many families to allow their women to pursue education and the focus should be on securing access to education itself. Khurram echoed women had agreed to segregation, but Taliban had yet to deliver on their promise to protect women’s education by reopening schools for them.

Earlier, the Taliban said that only female teachers could teach girls and women educators in Afghanistan have taken measures to ensure that was the case. Durrani said she spoke to female educators in Kandahar who were prepared to operate on Taliban’s terms, but schools were yet to become operational.

The advocate feared that Taliban was onto so something more sinister with their sanctions on girl’s education.



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