Protesting Taliban’s decision to shut their secondary schools just hours after re-opening them this week, about two dozen girls and women chanting “open the schools” protested in the Afghan capital Saturday.
Thousands of jubilant girls across Afghanistan had flocked to high schools on March 23 – the date the education ministry had set for classes to resume.
But just hours into the first day, the ministry announced a shock policy reversal that left the youngsters saying they felt betrayed and foreign governments expressing outrage.
“Open the schools! Justice, justice!” chanted protesters Saturday, some carrying school books as they gathered at a city square in Kabul.
They held banners that said: “Education is our fundamental right, not a political plan” as they marched for a short distance, before dispersing when Taliban fighters arrived at the scene.
The Taliban have not given a clear reason for their decision, which came after a meeting late Tuesday of senior officials in the southern city of Kandahar, the Islamist movement’s de facto power center and spiritual heartland.
It followed months of work by some foreign countries on a plan to support the payment of teachers’ wages.
Afghan girls have now been out of education for more than seven months.
Since returning to power on August 15 the Taliban have rolled back two decades of gains made by the country’s women, who have been squeezed out of many government jobs, barred from traveling alone, and ordered to dress according to a strict interpretation of the Qur’an.
The Taliban had promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.