After the second rise of the Taliban movement to power in Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, the movement has tended to impose its ideology and ideas through many tools, perhaps the most dangerous of which was the establishment of religious schools in exchange for tightening the noose on civilian schools and modern curricula and erasing everything that contradicts the movement’s orientations, ideas, and beliefs.
During the past year, the educational process in Afghanistan faced successive crises at all stages due to the decisions of the Taliban government, as education for girls above the sixth grade was canceled, then girls were prevented from entering universities or even taking tests or graduation exams, so that the educational journey was lost for thousands of girls after they were about to graduate.
At the same time, the Taliban sought to amend the curricula, which was repeatedly announced by Taliban Education Minister Nada Muhammad Nadeem, who believes that the current curricula in schools or universities must be updated in accordance with Islamic law, especially curricula related to the humanities, because – according to the movement – these curricula include Western ideas and may be a gateway to disbelief.
On the other hand, the movement is accelerating the pace of establishing religious schools in every region and city in the country and providing attractive factors for enrolling in these schools, including financial support in the form of monthly salaries for students. The matter is not limited to official movements, but some Taliban leaders are moving forward to establish religious schools unofficially in many areas.
According to the statements of Mullah Karamatullah Akhundzada, deputy director of Islamic education in the Ministry of Education, the establishment of religious schools is part of the action plan within the official framework of the Taliban government, and many girls have recently begun studying in religious schools.
The leader of the Taliban movement, Haibatullah Akhundzada, pays great attention to religious schools, as local reports revealed the amount of money that is transferred to those schools, including support for religious schools in the city of Ghazni, southwest of the capital, Kabul, which according to official statistics has 762 schools registered with the Ministry of Education, with 50 million Afghans.
Local reports monitored the flow of significant financial support to informal religious schools also in the state of Takhar in the northeast of the country to encourage students to join these schools in light of the obstacles they face in other schools and the lack of support available for religious school students.
Graduating a generation of fighters
It seems that the Taliban movement is seeking to graduate a generation from religious schools who believe in the movement’s ideas and doctrine and who can be integrated in the future into the army forces or agencies affiliated with the movement. This is what happened during the first period of the Taliban’s control over Afghanistan, when it began establishing religious schools in various provinces of the country, from Nangarhar and Kandahar to Herat, Takhar and Balkh.
The Taliban resorted to throwing the students of these schools into the movement’s military confrontations, but the movement’s first rise did not last long, and thus it was unable to complete its project that it seeks to revive. Despite international criticism of the Taliban’s educational policy, the movement is continuing with its project and is trying in every way to ensure that education in these schools follows the Taliban style.
In these schools, the Taliban uses teachers belonging to the movement, who have extensive combat experience, without relying on teachers affiliated with the Ministry of Education, in light of the movement’s keenness to adhere to its own educational curriculum, which was announced by one of the movement’s leaders that they have plans to establish a central religious school in each governorate and also establish five to ten small schools in each region, according to the needs of the province.