Clearing sixth grade means 'graduation' for girls in Taliban ruled Afghanistan

Clearing sixth grade means 'graduation' for girls in Taliban ruled Afghanistan

Clearing sixth grade means 'graduation' for girls in Taliban ruled Afghanistan

On December 11, 13-year-old Bahara Rustam left Bibi Razia School in Kabul, aware that her academic career was coming to an end. She’s not likely to set foot in a classroom again under Taliban rule.

The Taliban declared in September 2021 that girls would not be allowed to complete their education past the sixth grade, one month after the United States and NATO forces left Afghanistan after twenty years of conflict.

In December 2022, they expanded this ban on education to include universities. The Taliban have disregarded calls for international censure and predictions that the limitations will make it nearly impossible for them to be acknowledged as the nation’s rightful rulers.

Roza Otunbayeva, a special envoy of the United Nations, expressed concern last week that a generation of Afghan girls is falling behind every passing day.

Last week, an official in the Education Ministry said Afghan girls of all ages are allowed to study in religious schools known as madrassas, which have traditionally been boys-only. But Otunbayeva said it was unclear if there was a standardized curriculum that allowed modern subjects.

Bahara is holding onto her education and pores over textbooks at home. “Graduating (from sixth grade) means we are going to seventh grade,” she said. “But all of our classmates cried and we were very disappointed.”

There was no graduation ceremony for the girls at Bibi Razia School.

In another part of Kabul, 13-year old Setayesh Sahibzada wonders what the future holds for her. She is sad she can’t go to school anymore to achieve her dreams.

“I can’t stand on my own two feet,” she said. “I wanted to be a teacher. But now I can’t study, I can’t go to school.”

Analyst Muhammad Saleem Paigir warned that excluding women and girls from education will be disastrous for Afghanistan. “We understand that illiterate people can never be free and prosperous,” he said.

The Taliban have barred women from many public spaces and most jobs, all but confining women to their homes.

(With inputs from The Associated Press)