Girls study in secret schools as Taliban maintains restrictions on education

Amidst the Taliban’s ongoing restrictions on girls’ education beyond grade 6, numerous girls have resorted to attending secret schools, often located within private residences.

Students have shared their distress, highlighting the difficulties of learning in an environment overshadowed by fear, likening it to “committing a crime.”

The atmosphere in these makeshift classrooms is fraught with the anxiety of possibly exposing their location to the Taliban.

Arezo, a student, articulated her challenges, emphasizing that education is not an exclusive right of boys. “I am filled with sadness. Education is every woman’s right. Why must we attend secret schools?” she questioned. “It’s been two years since we were barred from attending school. We must join hands and build a school. Education is a right shared by both girls and boys.”

Yalda, another student, expressed her dismay over the ongoing closure of schools for female students. “It pains me to be unable to attend school. I feel like a criminal, sneaking around to avoid detection. We girls deserve the same educational opportunities as boys,” she stated. “I aspired to be an engineer, but now that dream seems unattainable.”

Salima Hakim, who runs one of these secret schools, noted that the girls study under a cloud of fear that is impossible for anyone to ignore.

“The fear these girls face, merely for seeking an education, is something no one on Earth can overlook,” she remarked.While there is no official data on the number of secret schools operating in Afghanistan, it’s known that many girls have turned to such measures following the Taliban’s consistent prohibition of their education past sixth grade.

For the third consecutive year, the Taliban has barred girls from attending school, denying half of the population their fundamental rights.