Outrage across global community as Afghan girls shut out of classrooms by Taliban

Outrage across global community as Afghan girls shut out of classrooms by Taliban
Several countries and international bodies have expressed their dismay over the Taliban's decision on Wednesday to shut girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan.
2 min read
Videos featured on social media of young girls crying because they couldn't go to school [source: Getty]

Countries across the world and international bodies have expressed their dismay after the Taliban ordered girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan to shut on Wednesday just hours after they reopened. 

Turkey said it regrets the Taliban's announcement that high schools in Afghanistan would remain closed for girls and called on the hardline Islamist group to allow education for all.

"We call on the Interim Government of Afghanistan to allow girls of all ages to partake in education in an inclusive manner as soon as possible first and foremost for the benefit of the Afghan people, and emphasise that we will continue to stand by the Afghan people in these difficult days," Turkey's foreign ministry said. 

The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned the Taliban decision. 

"We join millions of Afghan families today in expressing deep, deep disappointment and condemnation with the Taliban's decision not to allow women and girls to return to school above grade six," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

The head of the UN's educational organisation UNESCO also strongly criticised the Taliban's actions, labelling the move as a "major setback".

"Today, the promise of a return to school was broken for millions of secondary school girls in Afghanistan. This is a major setback. Access to education is a fundamental right. UNESCO reiterates its call: girls must be allowed to return to school without further delay," UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay tweeted.

The Taliban's U-turn was announced as thousands of girls arrived at schools hoping to resume lessons for the first time since August. 

The education ministry offered no clear explanation for the shift, even as officials held a ceremony in the capital Kabul to mark the start of the academic year, saying it was a matter for the country's leadership.