Primary school girls aged over 12 years banned from schooling in Kandahar

A girls class at a school in the city of Kandahar. Sept. 2022. File photo.

In a new move by the Taliban, girls over 12 years old have been banned from schooling despite being in primary schools in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, students and their parents confirmed.

The decision comes as secondary schools are closed for girls for more than a year since last September. 

Based on figures provided by sources and students, at least 100 girls aged over 12 years old have been banned from schooling in different schools in the city of Kandahar and two nearby districts.

Those who have been ousted from their classes are in grade 5 and grade 6, or fifth and sixth year, at school. The decision has been implemented in the last two weeks.

Girls at a class in a school in Kandahar province. Sept. 2022.

Kochai, a fifth-year student at a school in District 3 of Kandahar city, said the Taliban told her she cannot go to school due to being over 12 years of age.

“All our teachers are women. Despite being in primary schools, we wear hijab when going to school. Why are we not allowed to go to school? What is the reason?” she asked.

Razia, another student from Ghara village in Daman district near the city of Kandahar, said she was in grade 5 and was sent home for being over 12 years old.

But she added that she will continue her studies as such attempts will not stop her from getting an education.

Razia has been admitted to a private training center to continue studying some school subjects. She asked the Taliban to reopen all secondary schools for girls.

Secondary schools for girls are closed for more than a year, depriving at least 1.1 million girls of schooling, according to UN figures.

Ghulam Haidar, a resident of Kandahar city, said that he has no idea why the Taliban is depriving girls of schooling under different excuses.

“Members of this society must not be prevented from education deliberately. We need women in our society as well. They closed secondary schools, first. And now, they are depriving primary school girls of education. This is regretting and it is a damage to society,” he said.

Taliban confirmed the matter and reiterated the implementation of the decision.

A school in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

Fakhruddin Naqshbandi, head of the Taliban for Kandahar education directorate said that some female students in primary schools below grade six who are elder have been ousted from schools based on a legitimate order.

Naqshbandi said these girls will be allowed to go back to school once secondary schools are reopened for girls in the country.

The Taliban’s decision of closing secondary schools has faced harsh reactions from Afghans as well as the international community, but the group has continued to insist on its implementation, saying that a new mechanism will be introduced for the return of girls to schools.

This comes as Taliban’s deputy foreign minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai at a gathering in Kabul on Tuesday, Sept. 27, stressed the need for reopening of secondary schools for girls and said there is no legitimate reason for keeping the schools closed.