By Kobra Nader
The Taliban have allowed teenage girls back to school in some parts of Afghanistan, but for mathematics teacher Masuma Mohseni, her classes are not the same.
The 33-year-old teacher struggles to keep her two young daughters and students motivated.
“My students are scared too,” Mohseni told Rukhshana Media. “When the Taliban came to our school for a discussion one day, eight students fainted out of fear,” she said from Balkh province in the country’s north, where she lives.
After the Taliban took over the province on August 14, it closed all schools, both for boys and girls. In Balkh, schools reopened for both two weeks later.
In Kabul and most other parts of the country, girls’ secondary schools are still closed by Taliban order.
The students are not the only ones afraid of the Taliban. When the female teachers returned to school, they wore different clothes — the long, black dresses that cover the woman’s entire body but her face and hands. When Mohseni asked a Taliban soldier if her dress was Islamic, he responded: “It’s better if you cover your face as well,” she quoted him as saying.
“My 7-year-old daughter is afraid of the Taliban,” Mohseni said in a telephone interview. “When she goes to school, she asks me whether her hair is covered enough to avoid being beaten by the Taliban.”
Mohseni has not been paid for three months, and the lack of salary has forced some teachers to quit. “Some of the teachers do not have the taxi fare to come to the school,” she lamented.
When the Taliban captured Kabul in its previous rule, in 1996, Mohseni was a third grade student in the eastern province of Ghazni. She continued her schooling until sixth grade, but could not go to secondary school due to a “temporary” ban the Taliban imposed — much like the current restrictions the group has ordered.
Mohseni has assured her students she will continue working, no matter what troubles she faces. “I told my students, ‘I will continue teaching for as long as I am alive’”.
The Afghan TV network Tolonews on October 9, reported that girls’ schools in Balkh, Sar-e-Pul and Kunduz provinces have reopened. However, the Taliban’s Education Ministry confirmed to AFP that “High schools still remain closed for girls.”