Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed Wednesday that the education policies implemented by the Taliban in Afghanistan are harming boys as well as girls.
“Human Rights Watch interviewed boys and parents of boys across 8 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and found an alarming deterioration in boys’ access to education and the quality of their education,” the nongovernmental organization said in a report. “This not only has serious implications for them and their families, but also for the country’s future, including with respect to women’s rights and overall human rights in Afghanistan.”
HRW denounced the Taliban for its “abusive” policies that disallow women to teach boys — sometimes leaving them with male teachers who are “unqualified,” or even without a teacher.
They also criticized the use of corporal punishment, which has become more common, and the apparent changing of curriculum in schools that is resulting in large amount of boys dropping out — leaving those who remain with few classmates. The Taliban have also eliminated certain subjects, such as art, sports, English and civic education.
“The Taliban are causing irreversible damage to the Afghan education system for boys as well as girls,” Sahar Fetrat, assistant women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, as well as the author of the report, said in a press release.
“By harming the whole school system in the country, they risk creating a lost generation deprived of a quality education,” she added.
Due to the Taliban’s intense interpretation of Islamic law that led to bans on women in universities, some Afghan women have turned to online learning.
The University of the People, an online college in the U.S., said it received over 2,200 applications in the week after the ban was put in place. This was the highest interest level from Afghan women since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
“I think that the women who come to us, most of them, stopped at school. They stopped studying, and they were forced to leave school,” University of the People President Shai Reshef told The Hill. “And as such, they have the desire to study. They want to feel that they’re part of the world.”
The HRW report suggests that governments and other federal human rights agencies should urge the Taliban to end their discriminatory education policies.
“The Taliban’s impact on the education system is harming children today and will haunt Afghanistan’s future,” Fetrat said. “An immediate and effective international response is desperately needed to address Afghanistan’s education crisis.”