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Afghan girls face an uncertain future after a year out of school

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The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Rahim Faiez And Siddiqullah Alizai

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) — For most teenage girls in Afghanistan, it has been a year since they stepped into a classroom. increase. With the ruling Taliban showing no sign of allowing them to return to school, some are trying to find ways to keep young women's education from stalling.

At one house in Kabul, dozens recently gathered for classes at an informal school founded by Sodava Nasand. She and her sister teach English, science and math to girls who should be attending junior high school.

"When the Taliban tried to deprive women of their right to education and their right to work, I wanted to oppose their decision by teaching these girls," Nashand said in her Associated Press. told to

Her school has been running since the Taliban occupied the country a year before her and banned girls from attending school past her sixth grade. She is one of the many underground schools that have been. The Taliban allow women to continue attending college, but this exception becomes meaningless when there are no more girls graduating from high school.

"There is no way to close this gap. This situation is very sad and alarming," said Nashand.

Relief agency Save the Children interviewed about 1,700 boys and girls aged nine to her 17 in seven states to assess the impact of educational restrictions. did.

The survey, conducted in May and her June and released Wednesday, found that 45% of girls were out of school compared to 20% of boys. We also found that 26% of her in girls showed signs of depression compared to her 16% in boys.

When nearly the entire population of Afghanistan plunges into poverty and the world cuts off finance in response to the Taliban takeover, millions are unable to support their families.

Teachers, parents and experts all warn that the country's multiple crises, including a devastating economic collapse, are proving to be particularly damaging to girls. ing. The Taliban have issued a dress code limiting women's work, encouraging them to stay at home and requiring them to cover their faces except for their eyes, but the code is not always enforced.

With the international community demanding that the Taliban open schools for all girls, the United States and the EU have developed plans to pay Afghan teachers directly, allowing the sector to operate without funding through the Taliban. maintain.

But the issue of girls' education appears to be entwined with behind-the-scenes differences between the Taliban. Some movements support girls going back to school. Either because there is no religious opposition or because we want to improve our connection with the world. Others, especially the rural tribal elders who make up the backbone of the movement, are adamantly opposed to it.

When they first ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban imposed much tighter restrictions on women, banning all girls from school, banning women from

In the two decades since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, women of all generations have attended school, especially in urban areas. and returned to work. The Taliban, which seemed to acknowledge these changes, reassured the Afghan public that they would not return to the hardline of the past when Afghanistan regained control last year. }

Officials publicly advocate allowing teenage girls to return to school, but set up logistics for strict gender segregation to ensure an "Islamic framework." says it needs time.

Hope was lifted in her March. Just before the new school year began, the Taliban Ministry of Education announced that everyone would be allowed to return to school. However, on March 23, the day of reopening, the decision was suddenly overturned, shocking the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. At the last minute, Taliban supreme leader Mullah Haibaturah Akunzada appears to have bowed to the opposition.

Her Shekiba Qaderi, aged 16, was ready to start her tenth grade and she remembered how she turned up that day. She said she and all her classmates were laughing and excited, but the teachers came in and told her to go home.The girls were in tears, she said. "It was the worst moment of our lives."

From then on, she read textbooks, novels, and history books and tried to keep up with her studies at home. I'm here. She studies English with movies and her YouTube videos.

Inequality in access to education divides families. Shekiva and her sister cannot go to school, but the two older brothers do. Her sister is at a private university studying law. But that's little consolation: most of the professors have left the country, degrading the quality of education.

``What's the point of a young woman getting a college degree?'' asked Kadelli, a 58-year-old retired civil servant.

"She has no job. The Taliban will not allow her to work," he said.

Caderi said he had always wanted his children to receive higher education. Now that may not be possible, he is considering leaving Afghanistan for the first time after surviving years of war. I can't watch it grow in front of my eyes, that's unacceptable to me," he said.

Underground schools offer another option, but with limitations.

A month after her Taliban rule, Nazhand began teaching street children to read and write in a nearby park. Women who were illiterate also participated, she said. Some time later, her benefactor who saw her in her park rented her house and bought a table and chairs to conduct her classes. As she became more active inside, Nashand included teenage girls who were no longer allowed to attend public schools. There are about 250 students, including 50 or 60 female students.

"I try to teach them not only the subjects, but how to fight and stand up for their rights," said Nashand. The Taliban haven't changed since they first came to power in the late 1990s, she said. "These are the same Taliban, but we must not be women of the same age. We must fight in every possible way by writing, by speaking out."

Nazhand's school and other similar schools are technically illegal under the Taliban's current regulations, but so far have not been closed. At least one of her others, who run the school, declined to speak to reporters for fear of repercussions.

Despite her unwavering determination, Nazhand worries about the school's future. Her benefactor had paid her six months' rent on her house, but he had recently passed away and has no way of continuing to pay rent or supplies.

Underground schools are a lifeline for students.

"It's very hard not to go to school," said one of them, her girlfriend Dunya Arbabzada. She “gets very upset every time I walk past a school and see a closed door.”

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Fayz reported from Islamabad, Pakistan.