UN in talks with Islamic Emirate over teaching projects

KABUL (TOLO News) : The UN children’s agency said it was holding discussions with the interim Afghan government over “timelines and practicalities” for a possible required handover of its education programmes and that classes would continue in the meantime.

Aid officials say that the interim governement had signalled international organisations could no longer be involved in education projects, in a move criticised by the UN but not yet confirmed by Afghan authorities.

UNICEF said it had received assurances from the education ministry that its community-based classes, which educate 500,000 students, would continue while they discussed the matter.

“As the lead agency for the education cluster in Afghanistan, UNICEF is engaged in constructive discussions with the de facto Ministry of Education and appreciates the commitment from the de facto minister to keep all … classes continuing while discussions take place about timelines and practicalities,” UNICEF’s Afghanistan spokesperson, Samantha Mort, told Reuters.

“In order to minimise disruption to children’s learning, it is imperative that any handover to national NGOs is done strategically and includes comprehensive assessment and capacity building.”

A spokesperson for the Islamic Emirate did not respond to request for comment. The Ministry of Education has not publicly confirmed the policy.

The Islamic Emirate, who took power in 2021, have closed most secondary schools to girls, stopped female students attending universities and stopped many Afghan women working for aid groups and the United Nations. 

International organisations have been heavily involved in education projects, and UNICEF made an agreement with the interim Afghan government to run community classes before they took over the country.

Two humanitarian sources told Reuters this month that aid agencies had been told provincial authorities had been directed to stop the involvement of international organisations in education projects, possibly within weeks.