Afghan girls should not be excluded from school: UNICEF – Times of India

NEW YORK: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed the resumption of schools in Afghanistan from Saturday, but insisted that girls must not be kept away from classrooms.

“We are deeply concerned that so many girls will not be allowed to return at this time,” UNICEF chief Henrietta Four said in a statement on Friday.

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“Even before the latest humanitarian crisis, 2.2 million children were out of school. About per cent of them are girls. The education that girls are deprived of every day is a missed opportunity for them, their families and their communities.” The announcement of the reopening of the school from the Taliban, referring only to the return of the boys, did not mention the date of return of the girls, the report added. The move runs counter to promises made by the Taliban since taking power in Kabul.

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“Girls can’t and won’t lag behind. It’s important that all girls, including older girls, can resume their education without delay. For that, we need to start teaching again,” Four added.

After the withdrawal of US troops last month and the fall of the Afghan government, the Taliban regained full control of Afghanistan, expressing concern that they would re-apply strict interpretations of Islamic law that prohibit girls from attending school.

According to UNICEF, the country has made significant progress in education over the past two decades. “The number of schools has tripled. The number of children in school has increased from 1 million to 9.5 million.”

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The UN agency, led by Four, therefore called on development partners to support education for “all children” in Afghanistan.

“UNICEF will continue to advocate with all actors so that all girls and boys have an equal opportunity to enrich and develop their skills to build a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan,” Four said.

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