Afghanistan: Taliban opens 299 madrassas in Takhar in under two years

Taliban has established at least 299 religious schools, or madrassas, in the north-eastern province of Takhar in less than two years after it took power in Afghanistan, a move that comes amid the ongoing closure of secondary schools for girls.

Confirming the figures, the Taliban’s hajj and religious affairs department in Takhar said that over 7,400 children and teenagers are enrolled in the madrassas.

Instructors at the religious schools are all Taliban, according to those aware of the matter.

The department said that among these madrassas, some have been established especially for girls. However, no specific numbers were released on how many of these are for girls.

Figures by sources aware of the matter show that Taliban has allocated nearly 100,000 teaching posts for religious schools in Takhar.

The department of hajj and religious affairs said that the women’s madrassas are run by men. A number of girls who attend these madrassas confirmed this and said some teachers and “all administrative officials” are men.

“Taliban is dedicated to its decision to make madrassas in cities and districts and provinces,” said university lecturer Humaira Qaderi. “If this happens, it will lead society towards a situation where all doors to education and innovation will be closed and Afghanistan will be changed into another Quetta which is full of madrassas and is training jihadists and terrorists.”

Takhar residents said that the closure of secondary schools for girls and establishing madrassas on the other side is a “clear indication of gender discrimination.”

“Besides working for Islamic culture and establishing religious schools, it is good to pay attention to the main matter which is keeping girls and boys’ schools open so that the future generation becomes educated,” a Takhar resident, Ahmad, said.

Freshta, a Takhar resident and an 11th-year student, said the international community should put pressure on the Taliban to reopen their schools so that they can continue following their dreams.

“We had dreams that were buried. We miss our school, our classes, our classmates. Our plan as the young generation was to become a doctor or engineer but that dream was buried,” she said.

Figures by the previous government show that at least 5,000 religious schools were registered by the ministry of education in 2021.

Sources said that Taliban has turned a recreational area in Taloqan, the center of Takhar, and a number of other public buildings into religious schools.