Human Rights Watch has released a report detailing the state of boys’ education in Afghanistan under Taliban control.
The report, titled “Schools are failing boys too, the Taliban’s impact on boys’ education in Afghanistan,” was published on Wednesday, 6 November.
According to the report, the Taliban’s restrictions on education have not only affected girls but have also caused significant harm to boys’ education since the group came to power.
While the media has focused on the ban on girls’ education beyond the sixth grade and their exclusion from universities, the serious consequences of the Taliban’s actions on boys’ education have received less attention.
“While the Taliban have not prohibited boys’ education, they persistently undermine the educational system in Afghanistan. By effectively prohibiting girls’ access to secondary and higher education, the Taliban’s harmful and discriminatory gender-based practices not only deny Afghan girls their right to education but also have adverse effects on boys. Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Afghanistan ratified in 2003, governments are obligated to ensure “the elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education,” the report said.
Dismissal of female teachers
Human Rights Watch reveals that the Taliban has expelled all female teachers from boys’ schools. This has led to male students being taught by unqualified male teachers or even forced to attend classes without instructors.
A twelfth-grade student stated that out of sixteen teachers in his school, fourteen were women. After the Taliban takeover, four male teachers fled Afghanistan, and new male teachers were hired to replace them.
The report highlights that the new male teachers often spend class time discussing religion, the Prophet of Islam, and the “victory of the Taliban in the jihad against America and the West.”
Physical Punishment of Students
Human Rights Watch also raises concerns about the significant increase in physical punishment of male students in schools under Taliban control. Students have been subjected to beatings for various reasons, such as hairstyle, clothing, and possession of mobile phones.
Some students reported witnessing their classmates being physically abused on a daily basis for various pretexts.
The report strongly condemns the use of physical violence against students, as it violates their human rights and inflicts unnecessary suffering, humiliation, and psychological harm on children.
Harmful changes in the curriculum
Human Rights Watch mentions a previous report by the “Committee for the Review of Contemporary School Curriculum” published in the month of November last last year. This report revealed the Taliban’s intentions to make changes in the school curriculum, including promoting sectarianism, condemning international organizations like the United Nations, banning Nowruz celebrations, restricting cultural events, and criticizing certain figures.
Although it remains unclear whether the recommendations of the “Committee for the Review of Contemporary School Curriculum” have been fully implemented in current school curricula, Human Rights Watch suggests that the Taliban’s recent actions align with similar concerns expressed by students.
A student mentioned that since the Taliban’s rise to power, there is no noticeable difference between religious schools and regular schools.
The report concludes by highlighting the urgent need for international countries and organizations associated with the United Nations to demand that the Taliban end the ban on girls’ education and cease violating boys’ rights to quality education.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Taliban’s actions have not only created a humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan but have also resulted in the abandonment of education by many male students who are now working to support their families.
Human Rights Watch calls on countries and UN-related entities to press the Taliban to prioritize education for all and prevent the loss of hope for the future in Afghanistan.