TALIBAN ANNOUNCE GENDER SEGREGATION AT AFGHANISTAN UNIVERSITY

Universities in Afghanistan are to be segregated by gender and a new Islamic dress code will be instituted, the Taliban government said on Sunday.

The Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani told reporters that the regime “will not allow co-education”.

He also announced that subjects taught at universities will be reviewed.

Women and girls were banned from schools and universities in the country when the Taliban were last in power, from 1996 to 2001.

The announcement of the higher education policy comes a day after the Taliban raised their flag over the presidential palace, signalling the beginning of their administration.

The policy marks a significant change from the accepted practice before the Taliban takeover. Universities were co-educational, with men and women studying side by side, and female students did not have to abide by a dress code.

But Mr Haqqani was unapologetic about bringing an end to mixed classes. “We have no problems in ending the mixed-education system,” he said. “The people are Muslims and they will accept it.”

Some have suggested that the new rules will exclude women from education because the universities do not have the resources to provide separate classes. However, Mr Haqqani insisted there are enough female teachers and that where they are not available alternatives will be found.

“It all depends on the university’s capacity,” he said. “We can also use male teachers to teach from behind a curtain, or use technology.”

Girls and boys will also be segregated at primary and secondary schools, which was already common throughout deeply conservative Afghanistan.

Women will be required to wear hijabs, however the Mr Haqqani did not specify if this was limited to headscarves or would also require compulsory face coverings.

The newly installed minister also said that the subjects taught in universities will be reviewed. He told reporters that the Taliban wanted to “create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national and historical values and, on the other hand, be able to compete with other countries”.

He added that he wanted graduates of Afghanistan’s universities to be competitive with university graduates in the region and the rest of the world.

The announcement comes after a demonstration by women supportive of the Taliban’s gender policies at Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul yesterday.

Hundreds of women, most of them wearing black niqabs and carrying small Taliban flags, listened to speeches that praised the new regime and attacked those involved in large demonstrations across the country demanding the protection of women’s rights.

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