Afghanistan’s schools have reopened for the new academic year, but hundreds of thousands of teenage girls remain barred from attending classes as Taliban authorities ban their attendance in secondary school.
Education Minister Habibullah Agha confirmed in a statement that schools up to grade six “will currently be open for girls”, effectively retaining a ban on high school for female students.
Madrassas, or Islamic schools, are the only education centres open for girls of all ages. Yalda, a ninth grader in Kabul, told Al Jazeera that the madrassa was good for enhancing her knowledge of religion.
But “the madrassa cannot help me become a doctor, because that’s done in school”, she said.
Tenth grader Sara said she daydreamed of schools reopening “all the time”.
“Maybe someday schools will reopen and my education will progress further. I will never lose hope,” she said.
Taliban authorities have imposed an austere interpretation of Islam since storming back to power in August 2021 after the withdrawal of United States-led foreign forces that backed the previous governments.
The ban on girls’ secondary education came into effect in March last year, just hours after the education ministry reopened schools for both girls and boys. No Muslim-majority country bans women’s education.
Taliban leaders, who also banned women from university education in December, have repeatedly claimed they will reopen secondary schools for girls once “conditions” have been met, including remodelling the syllabus along Islamic lines.
Taliban officials have justified the school ban and curbs on women’s freedom due to a lack of a “safe environment”. Some senior Taliban leaders, however, said that Islam granted women rights to education and work.
Gaza truce extended
Hamas and Israel have announced the extension of a truce deal minutes before it was due to expire.
The Israeli military says the six-day truce in Gaza will continue in light of mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing hostages.
The ceasefire was extended for a day after Hamas gave Israel a list of women and children hostages to be released on Thursday.
Sixteen Israeli and foreign captives freed from Gaza on Wednesday and 30 Palestinian female and child prisoners were released from Israeli jails early on Thursday morning.
Fmr. US Secretary of State – Kissinger, no more
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died aged 100 at his home in Connecticut.
His consulting firm Kissinger Associates announced his death in a statement on Wednesday evening, but did not disclose a cause.
It said he would be interred at a private family service, to be followed at a later date by a public memorial service in New York City.
Kissinger served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations and energetically pursued the policy of détente which thawed relations with the Soviet Union and China
Kissinger was both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and roundly condemned as a war criminal as well.
Kissinger had been active past his centenary, attending meetings in the White House, publishing a book on leadership styles, and testifying before a Senate committee about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. In July 2023 he made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
World’s biggest iceberg on the move
The world’s biggest iceberg is on the move after more than 30 years being stuck to the ocean floor.
The iceberg, called A23a, split from the Antarctic coastline in 1986. But it swiftly grounded in the Weddell Sea, becoming, essentially, an ice island.
At almost 4,000 sq km (1,500 sq miles) in area, it’s more than twice the size of Greater London.
The past year has seen it drifting at speed, and the berg is now about to spill beyond Antarctic waters.
A23a is a true colossus, and it’s not just its width that impresses.
This slab of ice is some 400m (1,312 ft) thick. For comparison, the London Shard, the tallest skyscraper in Europe, is a mere 310m tall.
A23a was part of a mass outbreak of bergs from the White Continent’s Filchner Ice Shelf.
At the time, it was hosting a Soviet research station, which just illustrates how long ago its calving occurred.
Moscow despatched an expedition to remove equipment from the Druzhnaya 1 base, fearing it would be lost. But the tabular berg didn’t move far from the coast before its deep keel anchored it rigidly to the Weddell’s bottom-muds.
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