UNICEF to directly fund Afghan teachers without channeling money to Taliban

UNICEF Afghanistan’s chief of Education Jeannette Vogelaar said that funding teachers of the war-gripped country is the “best way” to support the education of girls, and also urged the donors not to “let Afghanistan’s children down.”
The Taliban have said that high schools for girls will soon be reopened.(AFP File Photo)
The Taliban have said that high schools for girls will soon be reopened.(AFP File Photo)
Published on Nov 03, 2021 09:19 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) has said that it is going to set up a system that will facilitate in directly funding teachers in the war-torn Afghanistan without channelling the money to the country’s “de facto authorities” – the Taliban. In an email to Reuters, UNICEF Afghanistan’s chief of Education Jeannette Vogelaar said that the UN agency would soon commence registering all public school teachers in the country.

Vogelaar pointed out that the “best way” to support the education of girls in Afghanistan is to “continue supporting their schools and teachers.” “UNICEF is calling upon donors not to let Afghanistan’s children down,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Afghanistan has remained plunged in economic misery since several international organisations, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) seized loans. The United States has also stopped over $9 billion reserves to the country’s central bank. These decisions were made soon after the Taliban took over Afghanistan after two decades on August 15.

Although the Islamist militant group has been advocating for international recognition of its interim government in Afghanistan, incidents of utter oppression and brutality during their earlier regime in the 90s, have most countries to do so. Many prominent world leaders, including US President Joe Biden – who had come under severe backlash following his decision to pull out troops from Afghanistan earlier this year, have said about judging the Taliban on grounds of their actions.

Also Read | ‘A woman can’t be a minister…they should give birth': Taliban leader

Despite reiterating that it will respect human rights, and permit girls and women to receive education and work, the reality has reportedly been much different. Soon after the Taliban dethroned the former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani-led government, women have complained about not being allowed to go to work and even being replaced by male coworkers.

Also Read | Afghanistan had a ministry for women affairs. Taliban replace it with ‘vice and virtue’

In September, the group announced the reopening of schools for classes six to 12 only for boys and male teachers, but didn’t mention when girls could return. Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had said in the same month that it is “finalising things” and girls will soon be allowed to return to schools. However, there has not been any update on that so far.

Notably, schools for girls till classes six and even university have continued to be functional.

This has, in a way, strengthened the international community’s fear and worry over the Islamists bringing back its hardline ideologies.

Also Read | Don't want to turn the clock back: Taliban say girls may study in no-men classrooms, hijabs must

Taliban’s director of external programmes and aid at Afghanistan’s ministry of education, Waheedullah Hashimi told Reuters that there would be “good news” soon on reopening of high schools for girls.

“We are working especially with UNICEF and some other international organisations…to come up with a good solution…we have meetings on a daily basis,” he added.

Hashimi added that economic hardship is a “problem” for the group in Afghanistan, and they request the international community and organisations, “especially those who have funds for emergency situations, to help us in this regard.”

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