In Afghanistan, boys 12 and older have been back in school for more than two weeks. The new Taliban government says it is working on making it possible for girls to do the same.
"My request to the Islamic Emirate is that girls be allowed to go to school," said Marwa, a Kabul schoolgirl. Islamic Emirate is the term the Taliban use to describe their government.
"I dreamt of becoming a top doctor to serve my people, my country, and my family and work in the community, but now it's not clear what my future will be," Marwa added.
The issue has become increasingly important as the world waits to see whether the new Taliban government will give women and girls greater freedoms than their past government.
Zabihullah Mujahid is a Taliban spokesman. He told reporters in late September that "the Ministry of Education is working hard to provide the ground for the education of high school girls as soon as possible."
On September 24, the ministry put a statement on its Facebook page saying no decision had been reached on when girls would be able to go to school. The statement added that work on the issue was continuing, and information would be shared as soon as possible.
Girls' education and literacy rates in Afghanistan are low compared to that of girls’ worldwide. But the rates have risen sharply since the last Taliban government was removed by a U.S.-led campaign after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Foreign officials and rights activists have increasingly warned that the education of girls and young women may be under threat.
The Taliban, however, has tried to present itself as peaceable as it seeks to gain international recognition for its government. Also, Afghanistan likely faces major economic problems that will require large amounts of foreign aid.
Officials say they will not return to the severe rule of the former Taliban government. That government banned girls' education and did not permit women to go out in public without a male guardian.
They say rights for women and girls will be guaranteed in agreement with Islamic law. But they have not said when and under what conditions girls' schools will be permitted to re-open.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
James Mackenzie reported on this story for the Reuters news service. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.
Words in This Story
allow – v. to permit
literacy – n. the ability to read and write
rate – n. the amount of something measured in units of something else or in comparison with others
guardian - n. someone or something that watches or protects something