UNICEF stresses that Afghan girls must not be excluded from school

“We are deeply concerned,” UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said in a statement, “that many girls may not be allowed to return at this time.”

No mention of girls

According to news reports, the announcement of the reopening of the Taliban school only referred to the return of the boys, with no reference to a return date for girls.

Girls can and must not be left behind. It is crucial that all girls, including older girls, are able to resume their education without further delay. For that, we need female teachers to resume teaching, ”she added.

The militant Taliban group that ruled Afghanistan from the late 1990s to 2001 regained control after international troops withdrew in August, and the Afghan government collapsed, raising concerns that they would reintroduce a harsh interpretation of Islamic law forbidding girls from going to school.

‘A missed opportunity’

Even before the recent humanitarian crisis – which the UN held a pledge conference to extend a lifeline to the most vulnerable – 4.2 million children were not enrolled in school, about 60 percent of them girls, according to UNICEF.

Every day that girls miss out on education is a missed opportunity for them, their families and their communities, ”said the UNICEF chief.

Despite this, important improvements have been made for the country’s children, who must be respected and protected.

Over the last two decades, significant progress has been made in education, with a tripling of the number of schools in the country and an increase in the number of students leaving – from one million to 9.5 million.

Support education ‘for everyone’

UNICEF calls on development partners to support education “for all children” in Afghanistan.

“UNICEF will continue to advocate for all actors so that all girls and boys have equal opportunities to learn and develop the skills they need to thrive and build a peaceful and productive Afghanistan,” Ms Fore concluded.

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