The consequences of the Taliban's gender-segregated education policy in Afghanistan

Abdul Baqi Haqqani.
(Image credit: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Taliban's higher education minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that, unlike the last time the group ruled Afghanistan, women will be allowed to continue their university and post-graduate studies. However, they'll have to comply with Islamic dress orders and will not be allowed to attend classes alongside men. "We will not allow female and male students to study in one classroom," Haqqani said. "Coeducation is in opposition to Sharia law."

The situation appears to be an example of how the Taliban will try to balance their historic style of rule as they face broad international scrutiny in a country that has changed significantly in several ways over the last two decades.

While the announcement has been viewed as a sign of progress by some, there's still skepticism about how things will unfold when it comes to women's rights, including education. For example, The Guardian reports that one female student pursuing a science degree in Kandahar said her university has already told her it's not economical to teach women separately from men, leaving her uncertain as to whether she'll ever get to finish her final semester. A professor ar Herat University, which used to have a majority of female students, added that despite being "one of the biggest and best equipped universities in Afghanistan," the institution does "not have the capacity" to handle segregated education.

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"There are some departments which don't have a female professor at all or have only a few of them, but with a lot of women students," the professor told The Guardian. "How can we function if we have to have a female professor for women and male for men?" Read more at The Washington Post and The Guardian.

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