During nearly 15 months of Taliban rule over Afghanistan, every single part of the country and sector has faced major challenges, and the education sector is no exception. Education for girls above the sixth grade is prohibited and boys’ schools are also facing various challenges. Besides this, strict restrictions have been imposed on university students, both male and female. In contrast to modern society’s needs, during this period, Taliban leaders paid special attention to establishing religious schools and converting educational institutions into religious schools and even army bases. Citizens complain about the lack of attention to the matter of education and the excessive attention of the Taliban to religious schools. With this description, political analysts believe that the Taliban use the pretext of religious school for training insurgents and extremists. Religious schools are the centers of producing extremist fighters for the Taliban and the Taliban will not miss any opportunity to promote this strategy and particularly this time that they are the sole ruler of the country.
During one year and three months of ruling the country, the Taliban have turned a large number of educational institutions into “Jihadist Schools”. According to reports, the Taliban turned the agricultural high school in Farah province into a religious school in September this year. Following this, the group turned the Technical and Vocational Institute of Takhar province into a religious school. Takhar Technical and Vocational Institute used to host about 236 students, including girls, who were engaged in taking training in construction engineering, electricity, car repair, and computer fields. Mawlavi Mohsen Hashemi, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Interior, Procurement Department of the Taliban, said at the ceremony of changing this institute into a religious school: “This school was established based on the decree of Amirul Momineen so that young people can learn Islamic sciences in this religious center in a research and specialized manner.”
Similarly, based on the reports, the Taliban has converted dozens of other educational institutions, including Abdul Hai Habibi High School in Khost Province, Technical High School in Kandahar Province, and Babrak Khan Zadran High School in Gardez City, Paktia Province, into religious schools.
According to sources reports, currently, a large number of children of Taliban fighters who were killed during armed battles two decades ago are engaged in religious education in these schools. No one knows about the fate of students of these institutions and the local Taliban officials in the provinces are trying to establish more religious schools.
No matter if the property is private or public, as long as it has the capacity to serve ideologist’s purposes, the Taliban has not hesitated to seize them, In June of this year, the Taliban seized Mitra TV’s property and use it as a religious school in Balkh province. Mitra TV and its building are owned by Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh. The channel suspended and stopped operations as soon as the Taliban took over the country and the Taliban did not hesitate to loot the respective property.
In addition, this year, the Taliban changed the training camp of the former president’s special forces (PPS) inside the citadel to a religious school. Sources report that the Taliban has named this educational center “Madraseh Ahsanal-Ulom”. For many years, this institute was a center for training PPS forces.
The Taliban’s attention to religious schools is not limited to the conversion of government educational institutions into schools. In addition to establishing religious schools, the Taliban inject huge amounts of money into these schools. Sources in Takhar province told Hasht-e Subh that the Taliban distributed about 10 million Afghanis in this solar month to support informal schools in the in Kok Chah district and villages. The source explains that this money was distributed by the Department of Education of Takhar province to the religious schools and scholars of this group.
Mufti Abdul Razzaq Siddiqi, the general director of Islamic education schools under the Ministry of Education of the Taliban, announced the allocation of one million and 300 thousand AFN to religious schools in Nimroz province in October, this year.
The group tries to use any channel and lobby options to attract financial support and funds from outside the country to build religious schools. The Ministry of Education of the Taliban announced on October 29 that the respective ministry has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Turkish organization, on the basis of which, religious schools will be built in five provinces of the country. In the newsletter of the Ministry of Education, the name of this Turkish organization. The scope of the project is still not defined which province it will cover.
The Taliban have increased their attention to the establishment and support of religious schools, while the state of education in the country under the rule of this group is deteriorating. Secondary schools and high schools for girls have been closed since August 2021. Though the doors are open to boys, but with the very limited facilities and zero level of attention by the Taliban on facilitating and providing modern education support. The lack of professional teachers, books, and buildings is a very common problem with government schools across the country. There are thousands of schools without buildings, but the Taliban has been investing money in building terrorist and extremist training schools under the pretext of religion and religious school building.
However, the citizens express concern about the Taliban’s indifference to the matter of education and the group’s excessive focus on religious schools and accuse the Taliban of forgetting education. Ahmad Seyar (pseudonym), a resident of Nimroz province, told Hasht-e Subh that students in Chighansor district of this province walk up to five kilometers every day to reach school. “The schools are too far,” he added. Children walk five kilometers a day to get to school. I wish you were teachers and schools again. “Until now, nothing has been done to the teachers’ department in our region.” He added: “Since the Taliban seized power, no one cares about the school and the teacher.” the trend of religious schooling has increased among the people.”
The statistics obtained from Chighansur district of Nimroz province by Hasht-e Subh show that there are 17 religious’ schools in this district. Among these, only two religious schools are registered by the Ministry of Education, and the rest operate informally. Sources in Chighansur district confirm that the number of public schools in this district is less than religious schools.
However, experts call religious schools recruitment centers for the Taliban. Ahmed Saedi, a political activist, speaking to Hasht-e Subh, said: “The only support that the Taliban have are mullahs. This is why the Taliban leader appoints mullahs as presidents, ministers, and governors. This is the only class who obey his orders without any question.” He added, “The Taliban knows that universities and schools will not defend their ideology and they are against their school of thought, so they are seeking to promote and expand religious schools and train their own obedient soldiers.”
In addition to all these misfortunes that the Taliban have created concerning the matter of modern education, the supreme leader of the group has ordered the building of religious schools in every province and recruit the children of so-called mujahidins who have lost their lives in the fight against the Kabul administration.
Earlier, the officials of the Ministry of Education under the Taliban administration told the news channel (Al-Jazeera Net) that currently, about 6,000 religious schools are officially registered and operating throughout the country. In addition, 15 thousand and 716 schools and Dar al-Hafaz are operating informally.
Schools operating under the Ministry of Education are financed from the government budget. However, the expenses of schools and informal religious centers are paid by individuals and charitable institutions. The head of religious schools in the Taliban’s Ministry of Education, Abdul Razzaq Sediq, told Al Jazeera Net: “The Islamic Emirate plans to establish a central religious school in each province, and dormitories will be built for 500 to 1,000 students in it, as well as in each district according to the needs of the people.” From 5 to 10 small schools will be established