Taliban orders girls' schools to close, students in tears

STORY: Sixteen-year-old Khadija stayed up all night, excited for her first day at school after seven months at home in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

But on Wednesday she returned to her home in disappointment after the Taliban suddenly ordered girls’ high schools to stay shut.

“The school's assistant manager arrived and she was crying, she took the microphone and said that she can’t speak, we all were surprised as to why she didn’t want to speak on such a happy day and why she was crying instead of welcoming us. Then, she told us to leave the school because the officials haven’t allowed girls to come to school.”

The Taliban postponed the re-opening of schools for girls because of a technical issue and a lack of standardized uniforms for students around the country. That’s according to Suhail Shaheen, a senior Taliban member based in Doha.

Since the Taliban took over control in August, the international community has made the education of girls a key demand for any future recognition of their rule.

A statement by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the decision deeply damaging. The UN spokesperson on communications in Afghanistan, Stephane Dujarric read his statement on Wednesday:

“The Secretary-General says the denial of education not only violates the equal rights of women and girls education, it also jeopardizes the country's future in view of the tremendous contributions by Afghan women and girls.”

Khadija says it's hard to keep motivated and overcome the disappointment.

"It was like a day of mourning and it was a very sad day, it was like losing a loved one, everyone was crying, the girls were hugging and crying and saying goodbye."

The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, they banned female education and most employment.