Afghanistan, Afghan girls and boys have not attended school for 18 months: the consequences are early marriages, violence, poverty

Afghanistan, Afghan girls and boys have not attended school for 18 months: the consequences are early marriages, violence, poverty

ROME - Next week, March 21, Afghan boys and girls will begin a new academic and school year, while three million girls and girls over sixth grade will continue to stay at home. Afghanistan today is the only country in the world that bans education for women after sixth grade. But if the Taliban won't change their mind and won't allow the girls to go back to school – she denounces Save the Children – the country's future will still be marked by poverty. The risk for the lack of school education of girls and boys is that the practice of early marriages increases, which bring with them abuse and violence. Without female education, half of future generations will not be able to work and the country will still be condemned to a future of misery with families who will receive increasingly low incomes.

The witness. “The sixth grade is too little for us: we want to continue studying, we want to attend high school. If we stop at sixth grade, we won't be able to do anything. We will not be able to find a job or go to university”. Aaisha has clear ideas about how she would like her future to be: first high school and then university. She has no other wishes for now. Her mother, Khadija, 37, has four daughters and all have had to interrupt their studies. She hoped that her daughters could have a better future than hers, since she too was unable to study: "I can't even read a street sign to know where I am, but I wish my daughters were able to" , he told Save the Children.

The ban on going to university. Shortly after taking power in August 2021, the Islamist group banned the education of girls beyond sixth grade, but allowed women to still attend universities, with a number of restrictions: separation from boys in classrooms , adherence to an Islamic dress code, access only to female teachers and a limited supply of fields in which to study. In December, however, the hard-line turning point came. In fact, the Taliban have banned women and girls from attending public and private universities. In January, they warned universities that female students would not be able to sit entrance exams scheduled for the end of the month. Higher Education Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashemi explained that the Taliban were committed to promoting the rights of all Afghans based on Sharia law. In February, the Ministry of Education also announced that spring courses would start for male students only.

The decisions of the Taliban. Afghanistan is the only country in the world that has banned girls above sixth grade from education. Yet the girls are fighting for a better future and know that the road to success is only that of the school - comment from Save the Children. When they stop studying, girls and boys in Afghanistan face many problems because they are at risk of early marriages, violence, abuse and other forms of exploitation. “Every day girls miss school is a day wasted. Not only for them, but also for communities in dire need of qualified doctors and teachers, and for the long-term economic development of the entire country” explains Olivier Franchi, ad interim National Director of Save the Children for Afghanistan. "It is vital that girls are not left behind when schools reopen. We urge the Taliban to allow them to return to school without further delay."

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