End of school year brings despair for sixth grade graduates unable to return amid Taliban bans

The conclusion of the current school year in Afghanistan this week has left sixth-grade graduates in despair as Taliban-imposed bans deny them the hope of returning to schools.

Heart-wrenching videos circulated online depicting these students, many with tears in their eyes, heading home after bidding farewell to their classmates.

Parents took to social media platforms expressing frustration over the prohibition on secondary schools for girls, lamenting that the restriction hampers their ability to inquire about their daughters’ plans for the upcoming school year.

Sixth-grade graduates, facing the grim reality of not being able to return to schools, shared their sorrow. Eleven-year-old Marjan, aspiring to become a doctor and assist her mother, expressed the shattering of her dreams.

“I was in the sixth grade. I had an exam yesterday. The exams are over. I separated from my classmates. I don’t have a father. I want to study to become a doctor, but there is no school, so how can I become a doctor?” said Marjan.

Secondary schools for girls, spanning from seventh to twelfth grade, were closed in September 2021. At the time, the Taliban pledged to introduce a new curriculum to facilitate the return of girls to their classes, but no such initiative has materialized in the past two years.

Zainab, another student, pleaded, “I finished the sixth grade. Please don’t close the schools to us.”

“I’m in sixth grade, and my exams are in a few days. And after that, I will be in seventh grade. Schools are closed above sixth grade, and after that, we have to stay at home,” said Yusra, a sixth-grade graduate.

Despite calls from the international community and organizations, including the UN, the Taliban has not made the decision to allow girls to return to their schools.

According to information from the United Nations Children’s Fund, 2.5 million female students in Afghanistan are deprived of school education.