KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers say they hope to be able to open all schools for girls across the country after late March, their spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday, offering the first timeline for addressing a key demand of the international community.
Since the Taliban takeover in mid-August, girls in most of Afghanistan have not been allowed back to school beyond grade 7. The international community, reluctant to formally recognize a Taliban-run administration, is wary they could impose similar harsh measures as during their previous rule 20 years ago. At the time, women were banned from education, work and public life.
Zabihullah Mujahid, who is also the Taliban’s deputy minister of culture and information, said their education departments are looking to open classrooms for all girls and women following the Afghan New Year, which starts on March 21. Afghanistan, like neighboring Iran, observers the Islamic solar Hijri Shamsi calendar.
Education for girls and women “is a question of capacity,” Mujahid said in the interview.
Girls and boys must be completely segregated in schools, he said, adding that the biggest obstacle so far has been finding or building enough dorms, or hostels, where girls could stay while going to school. In heavily populated areas, it is not enough to have separate classrooms for boys and girls — separate school buildings are needed, he said.