Taliban acting education minister says mixed gender university classes will be banned

Taliban acting education minister says mixed gender university classes will be banned
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The Taliban’s acting education minister on Sunday said Afghan women will be allowed to study at university, but mixed classes will be banned.

“The ... people of Afghanistan will continue their higher education in the light of Sharia law in safety without being in a mixed male and female environment,” Abdul Baqi Haqqani said at a meeting with elders, according to Agence France-Presse.

He added that the Taliban wants to “create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national and historical values and, on the other hand, be able to compete with other countries.”

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Men and women also will be separated in primary and secondary schools, which was already common practice in Afghanistan.

No women were in attendance at Sunday's meeting with elders in Kabul, AFP noted.

The ban on mixed-gender classes comes as the Taliban lays out how it plans to govern after taking control of the capital city Kabul more than two weeks ago.

There is growing concern that the Taliban will return to its brutal treatment of women and girls that was commonplace when the militant group previously ruled the country.

The Taliban has said it will respect advancements made in women’s rights, but only in accordance with a strict interpretation of Islamic law, AFP noted.

Taliban leaders have called on women to join government offices and have said they will allow women to pursue education and have careers.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told NBC News last week that women will have “all the rights that Islam promises,” adding “they can be doctors, teachers, be educated and can work to benefit society.”

University admission rates have grown in the past 20 years following the U.S. invasion, AFP reported. Afghan women during that period have gone to school alongside men and have sat in on seminars led by male professors.