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Afghan Girls Protest Abrupt Closure Of Secondary Schools In Eastern Province

A teacher and students at a class in Farah Province (file photo)

Dozens of girls protested in eastern Afghanistan's Paktia Province on September 10 after Taliban authorities shut their secondary schools just days after classes resumed.

A resident of Paktia Province who declined to be identified for security reasons told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi that the girls protested in Gardiz, the capital of Paktia Province, on the same day the Taliban closed the schools.

Several videos of the demonstration circulated on social media. In one of them a student asks: "Why did you play with our feelings and why did you send us back to our homes disappointed?" She described herself and other girls as "oppressed people.”

Four schools above the sixth grade opened in Gardiz and one in Samkani two weeks ago only to be closed again by the Taliban on September 10. Thousands of girls had resumed classes at the schools, which were opened in consultation with the school administrators and the girls' parents but not with permission from the Education Ministry.

Maulvi Monib, the head of education in Paktia Province, declined to answer Radio Azadi's questions about the demonstration and the closing of the schools. He said that he was traveling and would provide information about it later.

The chief spokesman for the Taliban-led government, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a press conference that authorities are investigating the issue of who ordered the opening of schools in Paktia Province.

More than a year has passed since the Taliban took control of the government in Kabul as U.S.-led coalition forces conducted a chaotic withdrawal.

The Taliban subsequently closed girls' schools above the sixth grade, depriving girls from continuing their education despite internal and international pressure to allow schools to remain open to girls of all ages.

The Taliban established a commission to reopen girls' schools above the sixth grade but so far no practical work has been done.

The Taliban Education Ministry has said several times that the commission is waiting for leaders to issue an order. It is not known when the Taliban leadership will decide on the matter.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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