Afghan Students in Northern Provinces Are Frustrated, As Universities Remain Closed

By Shekeba Saeedi

Students at public universities in northern Afghanistan say that they are deeply concerned about the uncertainty of the fate of their courses. These students say that if the public universities do not open soon, most students will be left frustrated to continue their education. Meanwhile, officials in northern public universities say that they have not yet received a specific instruction from the Taliban.

Benafsha, 18, has been admitted to the Faculty of Economics at Faryab University this year, but is now worried that the university will remain closed to students. “I studied with a lot of problems,” she said. “Regardless of the circumstances, I worked hard day and night to get into my favourite field at the university, but now I do not understand whether I should be happy or sad.”

With the Taliban taking control of Kabul, universities across the country were closed, but private universities reopened three weeks ago under new conditions. In private universities, a “religious curtain” hangs between male and female students.

Mehdi Hussaini, a final year student at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Balkh University, also expressed concerns. “I worked hard for four years, I studied with many economic problems,” he told 8am. “I worked half of the day and went to university for another half, hoping to finish college this year and get a good job. Now that the universities are closed, I am afraid of an uncertain future. It’s not clear whether I will finish university or not.”

However, the dispersal of the country’s professional and scientific staff over the past two months is another challenge that has worried students. Currently, a large number of professors have left the country and a number of others are planning to leave the country.

“Concerns about the closure of the country’s universities are growing,” Hasibullah Rahmani, a student at Jawzjan University, told 8am. “All students are confused. Young people have lost their momentum and it is not clear when universities will reopen. On the other hand, many professors have left the country. If the university starts, with what hope should we go to the attend the classes?”

According to the Ministry of Higher Education, there are 39 public universities in Afghanistan, but with the closure of these universities, the fate of thousands of male and female students is unclear. Former Ministry of Higher Education officials have argued that differences within the Ministry of Higher Education over the issue of co-education have delayed the reopening of public universities.

“How long should we be so unlucky? Mahboba, a student at Sar-i-Pul University told 8am. “The university is an educational institution and should be restarted as soon as possible, otherwise more young people will be forced to leave schools.”

However, university officials in the north of the country say that although they are waiting for the decision of the Ministry of Higher Education to reopen the universities, they have not yet received the instructions for reopening the public universities.

“The instruction for reopening the universities has not yet been reached,” Khalilullah Kliwal, president of Balkh University, told 8am. “We are all waiting for their decision. The plans and proposals of each university have been collected, and the relevant committee is currently working on it, and after reviewing them, they will inform all the universities.”

Concerns are expressed about the closure of public universities as classes at private universities begin on September 6.