Copyright : PA Media
Today is International Day of Education and the United Nations has dedicated it to Afghan women and girls who continue to be banned from schools and universities.
Many young girls tell me that they never thought they would have to find another way to learn. They heard stories from their mothers – who were living under Taliban rule when they came to power in the 1990s – about restrictions on education and other basic rights.
Now they have found themselves in the same position.
I went to meet female students and their teacher at a secret school in the capital, Kabul.
They told me that they were quietly studying for a future that remains unknown.
“I find it so painful that they don’t allow us to go back to our schools – this decision is against Islam, it’s illegal. Why can boys learn and girls can’t? a 15-year-old student told me.
When the Taliban regained power in August 2021, it quickly became clear that girls over the age of 12 would not be returning to their classrooms anytime soon.
Many secret schools began to emerge.
But a year and a half later, the crackdown on women and girls has intensified.
Running these secret schools is now very dangerous. If they get caught, they could be arrested.
Their teacher, who was a jeweler, says it’s a risk she’s willing to take.
“I don’t want students to forget what it means to go to school. I want them to still feel that they can learn – and should learn.
The Taliban government maintains that the ban is temporary.