Afghanistan: Taliban reopen female schools in Herat
Afghanistan–In Herat, Afghanistan, schools reopen to female students after the appeal of a fifteen-year-old. “Today, as a representative of the girls, I want to send a message that comes from our hearts. We all know Herat is a city of knowledge. So, why should schools be closed for female students?”
It was October 21 when Sotooda Forotan, a 15-year-old student, took the stage to speak at a public ceremony in her Herat, western Afghanistan, on the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s birth. According to the program approved by the local authorities, she would have to recite a poem. But, instead, once on the microphone, she astonished everyone by launching an unexpected appeal to the Taliban: allow the girls to return to school. A heartfelt speech that had moved the approximately 200 presents soon went viral among Afghan social media users, returning fuelling the battle against the mullahs’ ban on women’s education, which is permitted nationally only in primary schools.
The campaign has now achieved the first result: reopening secondary and high schools for female students in Herat, the third-largest city in the country. The return to class has already involved a few thousand students from the seventh to the twelfth year of studies. Still, according to the estimates of the local teachers’ association, the decision is destined to allow 250-300 thousand girls to return to school, considering that the female population education is about half of the million students registered by the authorities.
An outcome welcomed with enthusiasm by Sotooda. “I want to go to university and work,” explained the young activist, telling local media that her dream is to become the first Afghan foreign minister. However, in the rest of Afghanistan, despite the repeated promises of self-styled Koranic students, education is currently guaranteed only for primary school students.
In addition to the obscurantist policies of the mullahs, who said they did not want to authorize mixed classes either at school or university, the dramatic situation of public finances in Afghanistan, after the blocking of international aid. Since August, when the Taliban took power, the teachers report that they have not received even a salary.