Taliban Announces the Reopening of Universities for Women in 6 provinces

On February 2, the Taliban announced that some public universities in six provinces (out of 34) had been reopened to female students.

The Taliban's Ministry of Information and Culture officially announced the reopening of public universities in Nangarhar and Kandahar. Ahmad Taqqi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, announced later that day that public universities in Helmand, Farah, Nimroz, and Laghman will also reopen for female students. The Taliban's move is still subject to their initial announcement that male and female students will be separate. It will allow male students to attend classes in the morning, while female students will participate in the afternoon.

In January, Sheikh Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Education Minister appointed by the Taliban, announced that public universities would reopen. "Universities in warmer provinces will reopen from February 2, while those in colder areas will reopen on February 26," Reuters reported. However, Haqqani's initial announcement did not indicate if female students would be allowed. Early in February, in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, people saw female students entering through a separate door at the Nangarhar University.

According to female students in Nangarhar, they are unsure about the instructors who will handle their class. "Only our studying shifts are separated, although we have been told not to walk around the university until the boys' time is complete," she said.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ahmad Massoud, a professor at the Kabul University, said the Taliban's decision is a ploy to make other countries "recognize them, resume aid or release the frozen funds."

Zarlashta Haqmal, a law and political science student at Nangarhar University, said he is glad that universities are slowly being reopened. "But we are still worried that the Taliban might stop them," he said.

However, with the Taliban's condition to segregate classes, universities have trouble finding enough female lecturers and teachers. Laghman University registers 270 female students but only one female teacher.

The United Nations welcomed the Taliban's move to reopen public universities and allow female students to attend classes. Deborah Lyons, the chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said they plan to provide more "scholarship programs and support" now that the universities are reopening.

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