UN Afghan mission probes reported ban of male teachers in girls' schools

UN Afghan mission probes reported ban of male teachers in girls' schools

Following reports that male teachers have been banned from teaching girls in Afghanistan's Herat Province, the United Nations mission has sent a senior human rights adviser to that community to look into the issue of girls' education.

A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today that at a meeting which included representatives of the UN and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the Herat Education Department explained that the decree had in fact come from the Ministry of Education.

"The authorities reportedly took action after receiving letters of complaint from the parents of female students protesting against their daughters being taught by male teachers," Manoel de Almeida e Silva said. The problem had emerged particularly in the so-called winter courses for girls - the private courses attended by girls to make up for lost school years.

The Herat Education Department explained that the measure would not affect the access of girls to education, since there is a sufficient number of female teachers in the province. And while a UN Children's Fund (UNIICEF) rapid assessment generally supports that, Mr. de Almeida e Silva noted that "[girls' education] might be affected in the rural areas where the number of female teachers is smaller, or in specialized courses such as English language or computer courses where the number of female teachers is particularly low."

The UNAMA rights adviser and UNICEF will follow up the meeting with the Ministry of Education, discussing how the decree is being implemented, if at all, at national level and to assess its impact in other parts of Afghanistan, the spokesman added.

In other news from Afghanistan, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Housing and Development signed an agreement today in Kabul to facilitate planning, management, and implementation of urban reconstruction projects. Similar projects have already created employment opportunities for over 30,000 local Afghans in Kabul. Other programmes have benefited 15,000 Afghans in Jalalabad and 30,000 in Kandahar. The programmes under the agreement are funded by the Government of Japan and the European Commission.