UN in talks about possibly handing over education projects to Taliban: Report

The UN children’s agency said it was holding discussions with the Taliban over “timelines and practicalities” for a possible required handover of its education programs and that classes would continue in the meantime, Reuters reported.

Quoted by Reuters, aid officials said that the Taliban has signalled international organizations could no longer be involved in education projects, in a move criticised by the UN but not yet confirmed by Afghan authorities.

UNICEF said it has received assurances from the education ministry that its community-based classes, which educate 500,000 students, would continue while they discussed the matter.

“As the lead agency for the education cluster in Afghanistan, UNICEF is engaged in constructive discussions with the de facto Ministry of Education and appreciates the commitment from the de facto minister to keep all … classes continuing while discussions take place about timelines and practicalities,” UNICEF’s Afghanistan spokesperson, Samantha Mort, said as quoted by Reuters.

“In order to minimise disruption to children’s learning, it is imperative that any handover to national NGOs is done strategically and includes comprehensive assessment and capacity building,” he said.

Sources in Kabul told Amu that the issue has been raised for Save the Children as well that runs hundreds of community-based schools in various provinces of the country.

UNICEF has said that it provides education to at least 500,000  children, including 300,000 girls, through community-based schools in different parts of Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the Taliban did not respond to request for comment, Reuters said. The Ministry of Education has not publicly confirmed the policy.

The UN spokesperson in New York said the move would be a “horrendous step backwards”, Reuters reported.

The move comes as Taliban ban on secondary schools for girls is yet to be lifted. The ban has deprived over one million girls from schooling. Meanwhile, universities and private education centers are also closed for girls since last year.