Afghanistan: Taliban shut women out of university classes in extended crackdown on education

Afghanistan: Taliban shut women out of university classes in extended crackdown on education
The Taliban have banned women from enrolling in certain courses at some Afghan universities - widening their crackdown on female education since their August 2021 takeover.
2 min read
15 October, 2022
The ban of female education in Afghanistan is not uniform - some women can go to certain classes, others are shut out entirely [source: Getty]

The Taliban have imposed sweeping restrictions on the subjects available to women at some public universities, in yet another move to limit the educational opportunities available to Afghan girls. 

In Nangarhar University, the second largest education institution in Afghanistan, female students were handed a class enrollment list which was cut short compared to the sign-up documents given to their male peers. 

Subjects such as journalism, agriculture and veterinary medicine were removed from the female student’s curriculums, limiting their choices to seven out of a total of 13 classes.

Fatima, not her real name, told the BBC that she broke down in tears when she saw the subject lists. 

"I dreamed of being a journalist. I wanted to work on radio and TV. I want to fight for women’s rights," she explained to the British broadcaster.

"All their hopes are gone now," said Fatima when speaking about the women who manage to pass the entrance exams and get into public universities. 

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The BBC confirmed with professors at the university that male students were given a full list of subjects. 

These restrictions have not been enforced at every Afghan education institution. For example, in Kabul university, girls are still able to attend journalism courses. 

The Taliban’s Abdul Qadir Khamush, who heads the examinations division in the Ministry of Higher Education, has said girls can choose their favourite subject, with the exception of just three or four. 

"We need to provide separate classes for women. In some areas the number of female candidates are low. So we are not allowing women to apply for certain courses," he said. 

Soon after returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban shut girls and women out of school classrooms in a bid to impose their ultra-strict interpretation of Islam on Afghan society. 

Thursday marked 389 days since scores of girls across the country have been banned from attending school, said Human Rights Watch's Associate Director Heather Barr to Afghan news website Tolo News. 

This school ban has not been uniformly imposed across provinces. In some cases, girls made it back into classrooms after a matter of weeks. Whereas, in other cases, they continue to be excluded if they are of secondary school age or above.