‘All Of Our Classmates Cried’: Afghan Girls Mourn Taliban-Mandated End To Their Education As They Graduate Sixth-Grade

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John Oyewale Contributor
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Several Afghan girls wept as they graduated sixth grade, the highest level of education they can attain under the Taliban regime, The Associated Press (AP) reported Monday.

There was no graduation ceremony for the sixth-grade girls at Bibi Razia High School in Kabul, where Bahara Rustam, one of the sixth-grade girls, attended until her final class on Dec. 11, according to The AP report. “Graduating [from sixth grade] means we are going to seventh grade. But all of our classmates cried and we were very disappointed,” Rustam, 13, told The AP.

“I can’t stand on my own two feet. I wanted to be a teacher. But now I can’t study, I can’t go to school,” Setayesh Sahibzada, 13, from another high school in Kabul, told The AP.

The Taliban regime regained control of Afghanistan after U.S.-led coalition forces executed a chaotic withdrawal in August 2021. The regime reportedly promised to “honor women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law,” The AP separately reported. Seven months later, the Taliban reportedly imposed a ban on girl-child education beyond sixth grade. Sixteen months after the takeover, the Taliban reportedly banned women from accessing higher education. The Taliban’s Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue reportedly confirmed in July that the regime had ordered all beauty salons to shut down within a month. (RELATED: Male Afghan Students Boycott Classes To Protest Ban On Women’s Education)

A Taliban official announced Thursday that all girls were allowed to study in age-appropriate religious schools or madrassas, of which there are 13,500 run by the government and about 6,500 operating in mosques or homes, The AP noted. Although the U.N. special envoy Roza Otunbayeva reportedly confirmed that “anecdotal evidence” about girls being permitted to attend Islamic schools was mounting, Otunbayeva reportedly worried about whether the girls would be able to study modern subjects in the madrassas and that a generation of Afghan girls were falling behind.

Some 80% of the about  500,000 Afghans forced back into Afghanistan are women and children, the UN Women Afghanistan previously tweeted.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world that restricts female education, The AP reported.