Afghan Girls turn to online education amid university ban, but challenges persist

One year since the Taliban’s closure of universities to women, many Afghan students have turned to online and clandestine classes, though they say these measures are insufficient.

Students fear that the prolonged educational gap will lead to a generation of illiterate and unskilled women. Deprived of university access, they feel like “a body without a soul.”

Massouda Ghiashi, from the remote Yangi Qala village in Jawzjan Province, expressed her sorrow over a year away from Kabul University’s Faculty of Medicine. Despite her achievements, she now finds solace only in online studies, hindered by her family’s fear of the Taliban.

In Badghis Province, Nour Hawa Qadesi, a fourth-year law and political science student, laments the impact of her lost academic environment on her life.

“We’ve put in a lot of effort to get to where we are. I’m eager for the universities to reopen because staying at home has negatively impacted our spirits. It’s like we’re blooming flowers abruptly cut midway. I yearn for the day when the university doors open once more,” shared Qadesi.

Similarly, in Herat, student Fatima Maiwandwal, deprived of university education, writes about education only for personal solace, with her works reflecting deep disappointment.

“Nearly a year has elapsed since the universities shut down, and during this time, myself and thousands of other girls have faced mental and emotional struggles. University was more than education; it was a promise of a future. It allowed us to envision life after graduation, to plan our careers and understand our responsibilities. Now, confined to our homes, our paths are unclear, and the future seems bleak,” explained Maiwandwal.

With no alternative, these students are compelled to pursue online education. However, there are no precise figures on the number of girls currently receiving online education in Afghanistan.

The country hosts approximately 39 public universities and 130 private ones. Enrollment in Afghan universities surged from 8,000 students in 2001 to 400,000 by 2020, including about 100,000 women and girls.