Maryam, a 15-year-old girl from Mazar-i Sharif, recalls the terror and uncertainty she felt on her walk to school on the first day back to school in September 2021, one month after the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan.
NPR has chosen not to use her last name in order to allow her to talk freely. Taliban soldiers hailed her and other students as they entered the building. They also came into the classrooms later that day.
“The Taliban entered our class and most of the girls ran to the back of the classroom and turned around. They didn’t want to see their faces. They don’t want to see the Taliban,” Maryam said.
Every day, the Taliban entered classes to ensure that all girls wore headscarves and gloves to hide their hands. Maryam’s allotted seat was in the first row, in the very front, and she remembers feeling enraged and defiant every time they barged in. But, unlike her peers, she refused to get up from her seat.
“I didn’t want them to know I was afraid of them. I just sat there and refused to look at them,” she said.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Maryam is one of the few older females who has been able to attend school.
Mazar-i Sharif is in Balkh, which is the only province that has maintained older girls’ schools open. Several other provinces have had certain schools open for females at various periods, but girls in grades 7 through 12 have been barred from attending school in the great bulk of the country.
The discrepancy stems from Taliban divisions regarding girls’ education, and the Kabul government has delegated school choices to provincial Taliban leaders in the absence of a unified school policy.
After a long winter vacation, Afghan schools are set to reopen on Wednesday for the new semester.
Despite Taliban pledges that all females will be permitted to return to school, pupils and instructors are unsure what will happen. The Taliban-run Education Ministry in Afghanistan has yet to reply to NPR’s repeated requests for comment.
The article is paraphrased from the following: As school resumes in Afghanistan, will all girls be allowed to go?, Fatma Tanis, March 20, 20225:00 AM ET, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/20/1087734423/afghanistan-girls-school-taliban