Days after vowing to respect women’s rights in Afghanistan, Taliban officials in the restive Herat province have banned co-education in government and private universities, describing it as the ‘root of all evils in society’.
The decision was taken after a meeting between varsity professors, owners of private institutions, and Taliban authorities, Khaama Press News Agency reported on Saturday.
This is the first ‘fatwa’ issued by the Taliban after its swift takeover of Afghanistan last week. Capital Kabul’s capture on Sunday signified the end of the US’s longest war, launched after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
On Tuesday, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s longtime spokesman in his first-ever public appearance to address those concerns at a news conference, promised the Taliban would honour women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law, in an effort to portray a more moderate stance.
During a three-hour meeting of university professors and owners of private educational institutions, Taliban representative and Head of Higher Education, Afghanistan, Mullah Farid said there is no alternative and co-education must end.
He also said virtuous female lecturers would be allowed to teach only female students but not the male ones.
Farid called co-education the ‘root of all evils in society’, the report said.
In the last two decades, Afghanistan has implemented a mixed system of co-education and gender-based separate classes in all universities and institutes.
Educationalists said government universities would not be affected by the decision but private institutes would struggle with already a low number of female students.
Herat, according to official estimates, has 40,000 students and 2,000 lecturers in private and government universities and colleges.