Afghan universities reopen, but few women return


KABUL: Afghanistan’s main universities reopened Saturday six months after the Taliban returned to power, but only a trickle of women went back to now-segregated classes.

Most secondary schools for girls and all public universities were shuttered following the Taliban’s August 15 takeover, sparking fears women would be barred from education — as happened during the first rule of the group, from 1996-2001.

The Taliban insist they will allow girls and women to be educated this time around — but only in segregated classes and according to an Islamic curriculum.

Some public tertiary institutions in the south of the country resumed last month, but on Saturday Kabul University, the oldest and biggest with a student body of around 25,000 last year, re-opened without fanfare — and few students in attendance.

Taliban guards refused journalists access to the sprawling campus and chased away media teams lingering near the entrance.

AFP, however, spoke to some students away from the gates, who expressed mixed feelings after their first day back.

“I am happy that the university resumed… we want to continue our studies,” said an English major who asked to be identified only as Basira.

But she said there were “some difficulties” — including students being scolded by Taliban guards for bringing their mobile phones to class.

“They did not behave well with us… they were rude,” she said.

Another English student, Maryam, said only seven women attended her class.

“Before we were 56 students, boys and girls,” she said.