Middle East/North Africa

Taliban permit some girls to return to school: report

The Taliban have reportedly permitted some Afghan girls to return to their middle and high school studies. 

Some secondary schools that are located in regions where women have a relatively more dominant role in society have been approved to reopen by the Taliban, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that the decision was not widely publicized but was confirmed by a Taliban spokesman.

Elementary schools previously resumed but separated male and female students, and secondary schools for boys reopened last month. However, an effective ban on education for girls beyond elementary school followed after no mention was made about a policy for older female students.

The move seems to indicate the Taliban's decision to impose rules based on the cultural differences of various Afghan regions. Meanwhile, officials in places such as Kabul have avoided taking a firm stance on education for girls, the Journal noted.

Some eligible female students have not returned to school amid a sense of distrust of the Taliban's assurances that girls can go to school and as some families have fled the country. But top Taliban officials met with school principals in Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz, two of the biggest cities in northern Afghanistan, and demanded that they get female students to return, the Journal reported.

"Those female students who are not coming to the classes, go and knock on their door, and tell them to come to school," a top Taliban education official said, per a local teacher who spoke to the Journal.

A 10th grade student told the Journal that the Taliban "come to school and check the student attendance register."

"They tell us to come to school wearing an Islamic hijab, to not wear high heels or sandals, and to not make a sound while walking," the student added.

"We and our students are very happy that girls' schools have reopened and that girls can continue their lessons," Shamayel Sovaida, who is the principal of a high school in Mazar-e-Sharif, said to the Journal. 

Outbrain