A member of Taliban speaks with female students outside the Kabul Education University in Kabul on Saturday. Reuters
Men and women attended, but now were segregated, with women required to wear Islamic dress.
Dozens of female students, all wearing the hijab, the veil worn by Muslim women, lined up outside the university gate.
They were eager to resume classes cut abruptly short in the wake of the Taliban’s August takeover. Taliban stood guard at the campus’s three entrances. Previously the university was co-educational, with men and women taking classes together.
Students attend a class in the Badakshan University after it reopened in Badakhshan province. AFP
Most of the students said on Saturday they didn’t know what to expect but were surprised to discover they could resume regular coursework and advance in their chosen fields of study. The university largely follows the US liberal arts model.
“After much delay, fortunately, all universities and educational institutions started today Feb.26,” Taliban spokesman for the Higher Education Ministry Ahmad Taqqi said in a video clip. “The education will continue based on the plans and policies of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
The music department was the only discipline cancelled for both males and females, returning students told reporters. The Taliban did not respond to further requests for comment.
“There have been no changes made to the syllabus,” said Bahija Aman, 21, a third-year anthropology major. “The instructors are the same in my classes.” “I am happy they have finally let us return to university,” she added.
Aman has spent the last six months at home. Her text books are neatly piled on her desk, where she has spent most of her time keeping up with her studies. As a top student, she was determined to keep her rank when universities reopened, she said. She hopes to graduate and eventually earn a doctorate, all in Afghanistan.
Once attended by 22,000 students, the much-anticipated opening was a quiet affair. Media requests to enter the premises were denied by the Taliban.
Female students walk in front of the Kabul Education University. Reuters
A statement on the university’s official Facebook page this week announced that students would return to classes on Saturday and that classes would adhere to religious and cultural values.
Like most public universities, Kabul University had closed in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban takeover. The issue of whether women would be able to return without restrictions has been a key concern of the international community.
Many feared the Taliban would bar females as happened during the group’s previous rule from 1996-2001. The Taliban have said they don’t object to education for women but require classes to be segregated and based on Islamic principles as they understand them.
Some public universities reopened earlier this month in the provinces of Lagham, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Nimroz, Farah and Helmand.
Some Taliban officials have also stated that female students should be taught exclusively by female instructors.
This was never an explicitly stated government policy, however. Returning students said their instructors were both male and female, highlighting possible challenges in recruiting new instructors.
Despite the lack of a formal ban, girls grade seven and up have effectively been barred from going to school in most of the country since the Taliban’s takeover six months ago.
The Taliban have said girls will be able to return to school by late March. Access to education is a key demand of the international community, and the Taliban have blamed delays on lack of adequate space, especially in cities, to accommodate segregated schooling.
The new restrictions were spelled out by instructors to the Saturday morning cohort of female students. They were to wear the Islamic head-covering and could not bring smartphones to the university premises.
Male students attend courses in the afternoon. But little else appears to have changed. Kabul University posted a list of vacancies earlier this month on its Facebook page, including positions in the departments of art, public policy, literature, media and communications, and political science.
As the conflict-battered country faces an economic collapse and an acute shortage of food, the US Treasury also updated guidance to make clear that exports of goods and cash transfers are allowed as long as they do not go to individuals targeted by US sanctions.
It was exactly a year ago that the American forces and the rest of the Nato forces packed their bags and left Kabul in undignified haste, and the Taliban walked back into the Afghan capital after 20 years. There was no resistance. The chaos that ensued has died down, of course. The Afghans who could flee did leave
"Today I have been heartbroken to see that the families are willing to sell their children to feed other family members,” Charles said. "So it’s the right time for the humanitarian community to stand up and stay with the people of Afghanistan.”
13-year-old Zainab wedding date was fixed within hours of the would-be groom arriving with an offer of a few sheep, goats, and four sacks of rice as a bride price — a centuries-old custom for many in rural Afghanistan.
Sheikh Mohammed added in a tweet on Twitter: "We found its executive director at the service counters, receiving customers, speeding up procedures, and contributing to clearing transactions. The secret shopper assured us that providing the service did not exceed five minutes."
The first lady arrived in Cairo from Amman, where she attended the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein. She is travelling to Morocco on Saturday before heading to Portugal, the final stop of her tour, on Monday.
Daily working hours, in the morning and evening shifts, shall not exceed eight hours during the months of the ban. Employers are required to provide a shaded area where workers can rest during the midday break.