Female teachers forced to quit jobs as schools for girls remain closed

A girls class at a school in the city of Kandahar. Sept. 2022. File photo.

Some female teachers have been forced to resign as schools for girls above grade 6 continue to stay shut.

Despite not being formally dismissed by the Taliban, these educators report increasing pressure, compelling them to contemplate leaving their positions. Many have been reassigned to remote areas, exacerbating their challenges due to transportation difficulties.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has highlighted a global need for approximately 44 million teachers to ensure quality education.

In Afghanistan, female teachers report being pushed into alternative professions following the Taliban’s prohibition of girls’ education beyond grade 6. Hadia, who previously taught at both a government and a private school, shared her experience of losing her position at the private institution, where she earned 5,000 Afghanis (Afs). Now employed at a tailoring factory, her monthly income has decreased to 3,000 Afs.

“Before the Taliban’s ascendancy, I taught in both sectors. Since the closure of grades above six and private schools, I’ve remained a government school teacher, facing irregular and reduced salaries. As my family’s sole provider, this situation has placed me in economic hardship,” Hadia explained.

Other female teachers echoed similar sentiments, revealing that, despite not being formally dismissed, the Taliban’s Ministry of Education has been pressuring them to resign. Relocations to distant areas have posed significant transportation issues, leading to untenable situations.

Hossai, another affected teacher, recounted, “I was teaching at a girls’ high school before being moved to a far district. With transportation costs consuming most of my salary, leaving me with only 1,500 Afs, I had no choice but to quit. The Taliban’s indirect actions have plunged me into economic distress.”

Educational activists, including Lima Shirzai, have voiced concerns over the looming crisis in Afghanistan’s educational sector if it continues to lack significant attention.

“The Taliban’s disregard for education is alarming. The imposition of suspensions and forcing teachers into laborious jobs represent grave injustices against the country’s educational system, deeply affecting Afghan academia,” Shirzai stated.

Previously, the government reported 170,000 teachers, with women constituting 33%. However, the Taliban’s Education Minister claims the figure has risen to approximately 247,000, insisting women are included in this count.