Since the Taliban issued a directive prohibiting girls‘ education, private religious schools have become the focus for girls who wish to receive religious instruction in Parwan province of Afghanistan. According to religious instructors in the schools, the number of female religious education seekers has increased by approximately five percent compared to the previous year.
The residents of Parwan province informed Hasht–e–Subh that the Taliban‘s strict interpretation of religion, the closure of girls‘ secondary and high schools, and the encouragement of mullahs for females to pursue Islamic education are the factors that motivate female students to seek religious education in private religious schools in Parwan.
Many parents who enroll their daughters in these religious institutions are motivated by a concern for the future of their female family members, particularly girls. Research conducted by Husht–e–Subh has revealed that the number of private religious schools in Parwan has increased, despite the fact that the majority of these religious education centers have not been registered by the Taliban‘s Ministry of Education.
Ayesha (a pseudonym) is one of the administrators of private religious schools in the province of Parwan.
During a conversation with Hasht–e–Subh, Aysha, an administrator at a religious private institution, stated that her institute has been running a center in Charikar, Parwan province, for the past four years. Aysha went on to explain that, due to the Taliban‘s prohibition of girls‘ education, many children, including female children, have become interested in religious madrasas throughout Afghanistan. She said, “My madrasa used to have almost 100 female students, but now it has increased since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. It is likely because girls are unable to attend high school. Furthermore, there are now a great number of religious madrasas across Parwan province. After I discovered that most females were attending religious institutions, I also established two more religious madrasas in Kabul, where hundreds of girls are currently studying.”
Many families, particularly those in the Parwan neighborhood, have expressed difficulty in allowing their daughters to attend religious schools due to the Taliban‘s strict interpretation of Islam; however, the mullahs in the mosques have encouraged girls to pursue Islamic education, despite the closure of schools and universities. Munir Ahmad, a resident of Charikar, has three teenage daughters whom he wishes to attend religious schools. Munir stated that each of his children is currently enrolled in secondary school, but he has enrolled them in religious schools to ensure that they do not fall behind in their education. He expressed his concern that they would forget all they had learned in school, and his desire for his children to receive a moderate Islamic education. He also noted that, while he is able to pay for his daughters’ education, there are many people who cannot even afford to feed their children, let alone enroll them in private religious madrasas.
Nusrat Khan, a resident of Parwan province, stated that since the Taliban had come to power, the majority of mullahs and imams in mosques had been encouraging people to enroll their children in religious institutions. He further commented that the Taliban were so extreme that they believed those who had graduated school were ignorant of Islamic Sharia.
Amina, a sixteen–year–old female high school student in a private school, informed Hasht–e–Subh that she had decided to attend a religious school because the Taliban‘s prohibition of girls‘ higher education in Afghanistan had made it impossible for her to remain in her current school. She went on to say, “I do not believe that the Taliban will permit girls to attend secondary and high schools. The Taliban have not made any statements regarding the reopening of schools, and there are only a few days left before the spring school term is due to begin.”
In the past 19 months, Parwan has become one of the major cities where numerous private religious madrasas have been established. However, research conducted by Hasht–e–Subh has revealed that the majority of these religious institutions have not been officially registered by the Taliban’s Ministry of Education. An anonymous source who spoke to Hasht–e–Subh stated that there are many religious schools in Parwan that are operating without official registration. The source went on to say that “anyone can start a religious school in their home whenever they wish. Even though the Ministry of Education was aware that certain schools were promoting extremism, there were numerous unregistered male religious madrasas in Parwan during the previous regime. The majority of the current generation of local Taliban in Parwan attended these same religious institutions.”
Since their first regime from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban have had a history of denying educational opportunities to girls, prohibiting them from receiving secondary and high school education. In the past almost two years, they have continued to deny women and girls their right to education, despite having promised to reopen girls’ schools throughout Afghanistan.
The Taliban‘s decision to suspend girls‘ education at the end of 2022 caused Afghan girls to become increasingly despondent, despite the expectation that it would only be a temporary measure. The Taliban‘s Ministry of Education had promised one and a half years ago that they were working to “create a safe environment for girls based on Islamic Sharia,” which provoked reactions both nationally and internationally; however, the Taliban refused to heed any of the international community‘s appeals concerning girls‘ education in Afghanistan.
Female students are concerned about the Taliban‘s lack of communication regarding the reopening of girls‘ secondary and high schools. On Monday, March 5, male students were allowed to attend universities in cold–weathered provinces of Afghanistan. The Taliban have yet to provide any information regarding the reopening of universities to girls after the winter break. The Taliban‘s Ministry of Higher Education has declared that only male students are permitted to attend their university and school classes.