Reopening the Education Sector after Quarantine; Schools Remain Closed in war Zones

The spread of war and insecurity in many provinces of the country has disrupted the education system and the mid-year and final exams in schools. Education departments in some war-torn provinces say they have submitted plans to the Ministry of Education to find a solution and are waiting for further guidance from the capital. On Thursday, July 22, the Ministry of Education announced the time of the final exams in the tropical regions and the middle-year exam in the cold regions.

Takhar in the north and Ghazni in the southwest of the country are among the provinces where, according to their representatives in the provincial council, the war has reached the city gates. Representatives of these provinces say that if the government, and especially the Ministry of Education, does not find a reasonable solution to this problem, there will be an “educational catastrophe” in the country’s education system.

Wafiullah Rahmani, chair of the Takhar Provincial Council, told 8 Subh that the fighting was currently taking place at the four gates of Taloqan city and that most government officials and families, teachers and students had been displaced. Mr. Rahmani added that some teachers and even government officials could not visit due to the war. Also, according to him, many students have left schools in their home areas and it is not possible to open schools unless the security situation improves. Rahmani added, “I am not sure that school exams will be held until the war subsides and the conflict stops even in the outskirts of the city.” According to Rahmani, all 16 districts of Takhar are under Taliban control and the fighting has reached the four gates of Taloqan city.

Fatema Rahimi, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, also told 8 Subh that the reopening of schools is a new controversy in the country. The member of Ghazni Provincial Council added that Ghazni city and districts of the province are currently facing serious security challenges. According to Ms. Rahimi, 16 districts in Ghazni are now under Taliban control, and in some districts, there are clashes between security forces and the Taliban. Fatema Rahimi said that schools in war zones have not been reopened yet, while other schools have reopened in some areas, and students go to school in fear and apprehension. She cited the example of Malistan district in the province and said that not a single school has been opened in this district so far. Also, many schools have not been activated in Nahur district and there are security threats in the border areas of Jaghori district. However, the Ghazni Department of Education says there is no problem in the districts, but that some schools will not be reopened in parts of the city center only due to fighting between the Taliban and security forces. The Ghazni provincial council member stressed that it would be impossible to restart schools until security was restored.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, said that schools would be reopened in areas under the group’s control and that education would continue normally.

Shafiqullah Qarizada, director of publications at the Ghazni Department of Education, told 8 Subh that the Taliban were currently on the outskirts of Ghazni. According to Mr. Qarizada, many students have left the city center following the recent fighting in Ghazni. According to him, the matter has been discussed with the Ministry of Education and they have yet to receive written guidance from the capital. He added that efforts are underway to address this issue. Qarizada says there is no problem in starting schools in the districts but the girls’ and boys’ schools in Hyderabad and Sanai High School in central Ghazni are located on the front lines of the war. The Ghazni Department of Education cites quarantine and insecurity as two problems that have disrupted the province’s education system. To find a solution to these problems, the Ghazni Department of Education has shared its plans with the Ministry of Education. According to the Office of Publications, one of the plans is to hold the mid-year exam in schools in conflict zones, and later take the final exam.

However, the Ministry of Education says it has plans in place and that residents of the country’s war zones, especially students, should not worry. According to the Ministry of Education, according to an exceptional decision, schools in the country’s war zones will remain closed, and whenever the security situation improves, mid-year exam scores will be calculated together with the final exam at the end of the year.

Najiba Arian, Ministry of Education spokesperson, described the decision as “exceptional” in an interview with 8 Subh. Also, according to the decision of the Ministry of Education, students who have been displaced to other areas can pass the mid-year exam in other schools according to the bill of the Ministry of Education. Ms. Arian say if students are unable to return to their home areas on time, a temporary education plan will be put in place for displaced students. According to Ms. Arian, these students can be included in the system as official students if they submit their educational documents to the administration of any other school. Najiba Arian emphasized that according to the new decision of the Ministry of Education, mid-year exams will be not be taken in war-torn areas, and the exams of the students of these schools will be held at the end of the year and their grades will be calculated from a total score of 100.

Meanwhile, the Takhar Department of Education has announced that the mid-year exams for students in 16 districts, with the exception of Taloqan, the provincial capital, will begin on Wednesday, July 28 this year. According to the announcement, the school exam in the center of Takhar province, due to the existence of the war, is taken together with the annual exam and grades are calculated from one hundred. The Baghlan Department of Education has also announced that, based on the guidance of the Ministry of Education, the results of the displaced students’ exams will be calculated on an annual percentage basis.

However, Zabihullah Mujahid said schools would be set up in areas under the group’s control and education would continue as normal. Mujahid stressed that there were no problems in this regard and that all students had been told to attend their schools. According to him, the presence of students and the quality of lessons are very important to the Taliban.