Over 3,600 hours of education missed by Afghan girls post-Taliban ban

KABUL, Afghanistan — Since the Taliban’s ban on secondary education for girls in September 2021, each female student in Afghanistan has missed over 3,600 hours of lessons.

Afghanistan’s latest education yearbook, published during the previous government, indicates that over 3.2 million girls in high school and middle school have been barred from attending school following the Taliban’s ascension to power.

Families of these students expressed deep concern over the anxiety and distress faced by their daughters. Roya, a recent sixth-grade graduate, shared her struggle to intentionally fail her grade to circumvent the Taliban’s education restrictions, but she ultimately passed. “I dream of my school at night,” she said. “Being denied education is the biggest sadness in my life. I want the school to reopen for a bright future.”

Roya’s parents, like many others, are at a loss to explain the Taliban’s school closures and fear for their daughter’s future. They worry that prolonged school closures will lead to their daughter forgetting what she has learned.

According to the Ministry of Education’s latest yearbook and analytical statistics for the year 1401 AH, over 10.5 million students, including more than 4 million girls, were engaged in education across Afghanistan. However, the Taliban takeover in August 2021 led to over 302 million girls in middle and high school being denied schooling.

The data shows 718,224 female middle school students and 3,272,577 high school girls. Assuming a six-hour daily study schedule, every female student above sixth grade has lost 3,636 hours of education due to the ban.

Mohammad Akbar, father of two affected daughters, pleaded, “I want schools to reopen so that their future will be better.”

Despite nearly 20,000 educational centers operating in Afghanistan, girls above sixth grade remain excluded from these institutions. The country has 16,546 public schools and 3,025 private schools.

Marjan, another student deprived of education, lamented, “I study at home, but it’s not like school. I love my books, classmates, and teachers. The Taliban took away my dream of becoming a teacher, along with all my friends and happiness.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has warned that the Taliban’s decision to close girls’ schools risks destroying a generation in Afghanistan, emphasizing that education is crucial for the nation’s development.