Curtains will henceforth be used to separate males from females in Afghanistan school classrooms the female students wearing hijabs after the Taliban formally took charge, forming a new government.
A new report by CNN says this is a glimpse into what education could look like in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, as some students returned to classrooms for the start of the new school semester this week.
The last time the Taliban were in power, from 1996 to 2001, women and girls were banned from education and work. After the militants were removed in 2001, women were free to go to university and jobs.
Now the Taliban are back. While their current leadership has insisted women will play a prominent role in society and that their regime will be “inclusive,” doubts remain over whether this rhetoric will match reality.
In addition to the classroom divisions, universities must designate a separate praying area for women.
Waheed Roshan, vice chancellor of the private Bakhtar University in Kabul, said the institution would comply with the proposal but added that for many colleges the logistics would be challenging.
He told CNN that Bakhtar — where about 20% of the 2,000 students are girls — could hold classes for boys and girls in separate shifts. But other colleges might struggle with putting partitions inside their classrooms, Roshan said.
‘Better to stay at home’
There was a mixed response from female students to the education changes. Sahar, 21, who is studying political science, told CNN she was happy that the Taliban had not banned girls from attending higher education, but described the new rules as extreme.
“There are so many female students in Kabul who grew up in a free environment where they had the opportunity to choose what to wear and which university to attend or whether to sit in a classroom with the boys or not, but now it would be too difficult for them to adapt to these extreme rules,” she said.
Sahar said that even before the Taliban took over, girls wore modest clothes and that she did not see the necessity for further restrictions. She also said she would try to resume her studies under the new rules, but wasn’t sure if she could continue for long.
Ziba, another student in her early 20s in Kabul, said that she was planning to abandon hopes of graduating from the university due to the security situation and because the Taliban might impose stricter conditions in the future. She said that it was better to stay at home.
Ziba asked CNN not to use her real name.
But Mina Qasem, 19, who graduated from high school last year, said that she was excited to start university. “I will put on any type of hijab they ask me to wear as long as they keep the universities open for the girls. I am so excited to start my next chapter of life and my sister who is going to finish high school this year will also apply for one of the private universities at the end of the year.”
Mina said that if girls wanted to have a voice in the future, they had to get educated whatever the circumstances.
Varsity Strike: ASUU demands exclusion of Ngige from negotiations
The Academic Staff Union of Universities has accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, of allowing the over four-month strike in nation’s universities to linger.
President of the union, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, who stated this on Friday, also denied the claim by the minister that the union was invited to meeting on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Ngige said the FG would soon resolve issues on the strike by ASUU and that concerns over payment platforms would be addressed with the union and other stakeholders in the next meeting fixed for Thursday.
But speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Friday, the President of ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, said the union did not receive any letter of invitation from the minister.
He said Ngige should remove himself from the ongoing negotiation because the minister had worsened the situation.
He said, “We were not invited to any meeting. None of our members was invited. We have a secretariat but we never got any invitation from them.
“The problem we have with this government, especially with the minister of labour, is that if you can tell the world that you have fixed a meeting which you didn’t; how do you expect us to believe other things you have said?
“He should confirm to the world that he sent an invitation to ASUU for a meeting on Thursday.
“The minister of labour should leave us to deal with the minister of education. He was the one that made this matter worse to this extent. He was the one that decided to use hunger as a weapon, when he said no work no pay.”
ASUU, on February 14, declared a one-month warning strike to protest the non-implementation of its demands by the FG.
But on March 14, the union extended the action by eight weeks, citing the government’s failure to fully address its demands.
On May 6, Ngige promised that the FG would resume negotiations with ASUU with the aim of ending the strike.
Three days after his promise, the union extended the strike by another 12 weeks.
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ASUU will call off four-month strike soon – Ngige
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Wednesday said the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities would soon be called off.
He stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Ngige said efforts were underway to resolve the ongoing dispute between the FG and ASUU over payment platforms.
ASUU, which grounded academic activities in Nigerian universities since February 14, 2022, had insisted on the use of its own generated payment platform, University Transparency and Accountability Solution.
It premised its demand on claims that the government-backed Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System was shortchanging its members.
However, the Federal Government, last March claimed that UTAS was unfit for wide-scale use as it failed three integrity tests.
Aside from UTAS, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions also proposed their payment platform: Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll System.
Ngige argued that the Federal Government was indeed engaging with ASUU, despite notions that it has been snubbing the union.
He also said there were no plans to establish an alternative payment table for all the labour unions in tertiary institutions.
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