After the Taliban’s restrictions on education, Afghan women universities resort to “difficult and expensive” options

A report by the American “Time” magazine highlighted the suffering of Afghan female students since the Taliban seized power in mid-August.

The magazine spoke about the story of the 24-year-old student, Farah, who was at the university when she heard the news of the Taliban taking control of Kabul, and that was her last day of study.

Farah, who asked the magazine not to reveal her name out of fear for her safety, said that the students “stood up as soon as they learned of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and started collecting their belongings.”

Banning female students
Since the collapse of the Afghan government, two months ago, thousands of Afghan girls and women have been prevented from attending secondary schools and universities, leading to an unknown fate over their future in education.

Before the Taliban took the capital without a fight, about 20,000 students at Kabul University were female.

Women’s education is perhaps the strongest sign of change and hope in the new Afghanistan, after the Taliban banned girls’ education during their rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Over the two decades since its intervention, the United States has spent nearly $1 billion on educating Afghan women and girls.

Despite the Taliban’s assurances during negotiations with the United States that all Afghans would have the right to an education, the new government banned women from appearing on college and high school campuses, and there was no sign of ending this situation.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said recently that girls would be allowed to resume their studies when there was an “environment in which female students are protected”.

distance learning
While women are still prevented from education, hundreds of female students have in recent weeks registered for distance learning programs at universities outside the country.

The United Nations Development Program offers several scholarships for Afghan women to study in neighboring Central Asian countries, all of which are funded by the European Union. In August, Oxford University announced that it would offer five scholarships to Afghan women, funded by a charitable foundation.

Study in secret
When the Taliban captured the capital in mid-August, Nasreen, 21, spent four hours returning home amid the turmoil in the city.

When Nasreen finally got home, she discovered that some of the neighbors she had known all her life were celebrating the victory of the Taliban, whose members had once threatened to kill her father.

Early the next morning, Nasreen fled town with her parents and five younger siblings to a nearby village where the family is now hiding.

Nasreen says her new scholarship, which begins next month, saved her from depression.

While some will need to keep their studies secret, fearing that the Taliban will try to stop distance learning for women. There are also other hurdles to overcome, such as frequent power outages and costly and slow internet connections.

But despite this, Nasreen says that she is determined to occupy herself with studies, at least for psychological stability.

Farah, who escaped from the financial management class the morning the Taliban took over Kabul, is now planning to get a degree in business administration from an online university. “Communication is very difficult, and the cost is high,” she says, during a long conversation over voice messages. Back and forth, instead of talking directly over an unstable internet connection.

Although Farah will struggle to pay the increased internet fees, now that her husband is unemployed, she says, “I have to fulfill my dream.”

 
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