The Taliban kept the Afghans excited for half a year over whether to open school doors for girls. Taliban leaders, on the other hand, have been training their own daughters in neighboring countries for years, writes HS journalist and photographer Kaisa Rautaheimo.
Last in september, i got a voice message from a taliban media representative to my whatsapp number. It had been a few weeks since the change of power in Afghanistan, and we were planning a talk show in Kabul. To get into the country, we needed media accreditation from the new rulers.
The polite voice highlighted in the message I received welcomed us. In almost perfect English, he asked for the necessary documents.
We copy passports, press cards and visas. The friendly voice delivered the media accreditation to Whatsapp and sent out an audio message: “Stay Blessed and have a pleasent journey to Afghanistan!”
One has changed.
Prior to his rise to power, the Taliban carried out attacks on journalists for several years.
In the voice message, the sender’s almost perfect English also attracted attention.
The kindness is explained by the need for the Taliban to smooth out their portrayal. Foreign suppliers are a great tool for that. It has been even more cruel to local journalists.
The message I received also says something else. The leadership of the Taliban is more educated than in the 1990s.
Afghan Analyst Network In February, the research organization published a report revealing how the relationship of Taliban leaders to education has changed in recent years.
The report says Taliban leaders sent both their daughters and sons to school while living in exile in neighboring Afghanistan for years. Many of them also trained themselves.
These were not just religious schools, but ordinary schools of study in mathematics, history, English, and computer science.
The report also states that some of the Taliban’s daughters continued their studies at the university after high school.
Some also considered last fall whether to bring their families back to Afghanistan right away, as children’s school attendance could suffer.
The Taliban after the capture of power in August, public schools and universities went shut. In September, the new administration ordered elementary schools to open to all, but only boys and male teachers were welcomed into the high school.
Girls over the age of 11 were kept silent about schooling. In most parts of the country, the girls stayed home all fall and waited.
The explanations of the Taliban representatives were vague. It was appealed to Islam, it was appealed to Afghan culture.
For the people of Afghanistan, the action was remarkably reminiscent of the previous Taliban regime, when schools never opened for girls.
New Year’s Eve after that, there was a more positive tone in Taliban statements.
Public universities were scheduled to open to everyone in February with the following rules: girls and boys should study in separate buildings, girls should wear an Islamic scarf, hijab, girls should be taught mainly by women, and education should be based on Islamic principles.
The Taliban regime has also promised that on March 21, all primary and secondary schools will open for both boys and girls.
Even if schools formally open, their ability to operate is a cause for concern.
There is already a shortage of trained teachers in the country. There have never been enough school buildings.
Now both, teachers and buildings, need double the number – girls and boys of their own.
Afghan people is also concerned about the nature of the curriculum: what does it mean to base teaching on Islam as interpreted by the Taliban?
What is essential is how committed the Taliban really are to working for their own people and giving them the same opportunities that they themselves have had in Afghanistan’s neighborhood.
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