Afghanistan: At least 50 private schools remain closed in Herat

Officials from the private schools union Herat said that at least 50 of these schools had been closed in the province over the past 19 months over the absence of female students and lack of budget.

According to the union, more than 50,000 girls enrolled in private schools ahead of the closure of secondary schools for girls nearly one and a half years ago.

“We had 250 private schools during the republic government but the number has now reduced to 200,” said Sabir Mashal, head of the union.

Teachers from private schools said that many of their colleagues have lost their jobs after the closure of schools in Herat.

Sumaya Shams, a teacher from a private school, said she was the only breadwinner for her family but she lost her job after their school was closed.

“I worked there for five years and I had a good income that could afford the needs of my family =,” she said. “Now, it is hard for me to afford the needs of my family as I have lost my job.”

Another teacher, Maryam Rasheed, said she is faced with a similar fate and at one point she attempted to sell her kidney to afford the needs of her 12-member family.

“Taliban’s ideology is to remove women from society,” she said. “We will have an illiterate generation if the situation continues and it is shameful.”

Analysts said the closure of schools and other education centers would damage the country’s economy as they play a vital role in keeping part of the private sector alive.

“The closure of private schools for girls has reduced jobs for women and has affected the political development of society… Economic development is not possible without women’s participation,” said Ihsan Wasiq, an analyst.

Figures by the Taliban-run education directorate in Herat show that at least 400,000 girls were enrolled in public and private schools in Herat in the solar year 1400 (March 2021 to March 2022) while 50,000 of them were enrolled in private schools.

Abdullah Amini, Taliban’s head of education directorate in Herat, said that at least 700,000 students are enrolled in public and private schools in the province this year.

He did not provide details about private schools but added 1,200 schools would be open in Herat, including primary schools for girls, this education year.

This comes as UNICEF has said that 4.2 million children have been deprived of schooling in Afghanistan while 60 percent of them were girls.