Taliban elite educate daughters abroad while millions of girls are banned from classrooms

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Taliban officials send their daughters to foreign schools, despite the regime not allowing many female high school students in the classroom, according to a report.

Senior officials send their children to schools and universities, including in Qatar, southwest Asia, while millions of female high school students in Afghanistan have been out of education since the Taliban took power in August.

According to a report by Afghanistan Analysts Network, many Taliban leaders in Qatar have chosen to send their sons and daughters to school. The majority in Doha enroll their daughters in school.

Millions of female students are still out of school in Afghanistan as the Taliban government has so far reopened only secondary schools for boys and primary schools for all students.

But the Taliban have promised that all women and girls will have access to schools at all levels when the remaining schools across the country reopen in March.

Meanwhile, half of the Afghan population would face famine in the coming months amid a humanitarian crisis in the country.

The report, conducted by the Non-Profit Policy Research Group, interviewed 30 people, including nine senior Taliban officials and one Taliban sympathizer.

Senior Taliban officials send their children to foreign schools and universities, including in Qatar, the report said.  Pictured: Female students at school in Herat, Afghanistan, on Sept. 14, as primary schools reopened after the Taliban takeover

Senior Taliban officials send their children to foreign schools and universities, including in Qatar, the report said. Pictured: Female students at school in Herat, Afghanistan, on Sept. 14, as primary schools reopened after the Taliban takeover

A Taliban official from Qatar, who was a member of the Taliban negotiating team, said his two daughters attended a Qatari state school, one of which completed her education in 2020.

He said: ‘We lived for three years without much trouble from education, but since everyone in the area went to school, our children demanded that they go to school too. So in the fourth year I had to send my three sons and two daughters to school.’

Other Taliban officials chose to send their children to private schools run by Pakistanis, based in Qatar, who follow a Pakistani curriculum but teach in English, according to the report.

Another Taliban official from Qatar told AAN: ‘Taliban members and their families living here’ [in Qatar] make high demands on modern education and no one is against that, both for boys and girls – of whatever age.’

A daughter of a current Taliban minister, who was previously a member of the Leadership Shura in Quetta, said she is studying medicine at a Qatari university.

Two members of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, who have since moved to Kabul, said they did not know whether to bring their families to Afghanistan or wait because of the “interruption of education for boys and girls.”

A source told the report that some officials are sending their daughters to schools in Pakistan that use Iqra education, which combines religious “madrasa” education with “modern” education.

An official described the Iqra method and said: ‘The Iqra system is very good for Taliban who want to educate their boys and girls. It is an Islamic education system that provides both modern school subjects and madrasa subjects.’

According to the report, Taliban officials have also secretly enrolled their daughters in schools and universities in Afghanistan, while some Taliban commanders have established schools, private madrasas and universities in Pakistan that admit girls.

The hardline group ousted the US-backed government in August, promising a softer form of rule than their repressive government in the 1990s, when women were largely banned from education and work.

Millions of female high school students still cannot go to school in Afghanistan.  Pictured: Afghan girls in Farah, Afghanistan, on October 12

Millions of female high school students still cannot go to school in Afghanistan.  Pictured: Afghan girls in Farah, Afghanistan, on October 12

Millions of female high school students still cannot go to school in Afghanistan. Pictured: Afghan girls in Farah, Afghanistan, on October 12

But the Taliban government has so far reopened only boys’ high schools in most parts of Afghanistan, while millions of girls are still out of school.

Primary schools in the country have reopened, with boys and girls mostly taking separate classes and some female teachers returning to work.

The Taliban have made public commitments that all women and girls will have access to schools at all levels when schools across the country reopen in March.

On September 17, the ministry of education ordered all male teachers and male students back to the classroom, but barred girls from returning to high school.

“All male teachers and students should visit their educational institutions,” a statement said before classes resumed.

Some private universities have since reopened, but in many cases, female students have been unable to return to class.

Last month, the Taliban’s acting Minister of Higher Education confirmed that Afghanistan’s public universities, which had been closed since the Taliban took power in August, will reopen this month.

But Shaikh Abdul Baqi Haqqani did not specify whether female students would be able to return to their studies according to the plans.

Universities in warmer provinces will reopen from Feb. 2, while those in colder areas will reopen Feb. 26, the minister told a news conference in Kabul.

In the past, Taliban officials have suggested that women could be taught in separate classes.

The international community has put pressure on the hardline Taliban, which took over Afghanistan on August 15, to get them to work to uphold women’s rights.

Western governments have made education for female students part of their demands as the Taliban seek more foreign aid and thaw foreign assets.

Since a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001, significant progress has been made in girls’ education, with the number of schools trebled and female literacy nearly doubling to 30 percent — but the change has largely been confined to the cities.

Afghan women have fought for and acquired basic rights for the past 20 years and have become lawmakers, judges, pilots and police officers.

Hundreds of thousands went to work — in some cases a necessity as many women were widowed or now support disabled husbands as a result of decades of conflict.

Meanwhile, the UN says 8.7 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation, and Secretary General Antonio Guterres said more than half of the population faces “extreme hunger.”

“More than 80% of the population depends on contaminated drinking water, and some families sell their babies to buy food,” he said.

Meanwhile, half of the Afghan population would face famine in the coming months.  Pictured: A nurse checks a child's weight at the makeshift clinic near Herat, Afghanistan

Meanwhile, half of the Afghan population would face famine in the coming months.  Pictured: A nurse checks a child's weight at the makeshift clinic near Herat, Afghanistan

Meanwhile, half of the Afghan population would face famine in the coming months. Pictured: A nurse checks a child’s weight at the makeshift clinic near Herat, Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy was already stumbling when the Taliban seized power last August amid the chaotic departure of US and NATO forces after 20 years.

The international community has frozen Afghanistan’s assets abroad and withdrawn economic support for its unwillingness to cooperate with the Taliban given the brutality during their 1996-2001 rule.

Guterres said the World Bank Reconstruction Fund for Afghanistan transferred $280 million to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF and the World Food Program last month.

He said the remaining $1.2 million must be released urgently to help Afghans survive the winter.

“Time is of the essence,” Guterres told the Security Council last month. “Without action, lives will be lost and despair and extremism will increase.”

Last month, a high-level Taliban delegation met with Afghan civil society representatives in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

Norway and its NATO allies do not formally recognize the Taliban-led government that took power last year, but see talks as a necessity given the depth of the crisis.

The Taliban delegation, led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, did not meet with cabinet-level ministers, but met a deputy minister from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Deborah Lyons noted that a joint communiqué of the talks emphasized that “understanding and joint cooperation are the only solutions to all of Afghanistan’s problems.” She now said the Taliban ‘must act on it’.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and chaired the meeting this month, said the Taliban delegation has also held direct talks with representatives from Norway, the US, France and Britain, but emphasized that this did not mean the Taliban government.

“We need to talk to them, engage them and present very clear expectations, because Afghanistan is facing a serious humanitarian crisis today and a million children could starve,” Støre said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He said there were no negotiations, no agreement signed, but that the talks were, as far as he could see, “the beginning of something that could lead to something.”

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