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Taliban Orders Girls' High Schools To Remain Closed, Leaving Students in Tears

INTERNATIONAL: The Taliban on Wednesday,March 23, have backtracked on their announcement that high schools would open for girls, saying they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law for them to reopen.

The u-turn took many by surprise, leaving students in tears and drawing condemnation from humanitarian agencies, rights groups and diplomats at a time when the Taliban administration is seeking international recognition.

Teachers and students from three high schools around the capital Kabul have said girls had returned in excitement to campuses on Wednesday morning, but were ordered to go home. They have said many students left in tears.

Sixteen-year-old Khadija went to school on Wednesday having stayed up all night in excitement after seven months at home. But just minutes after lining up with her classmates for a welcoming speech, the school's assistant manager instead approached the students, crying, and broke the news they had to leave.

"It was like a day of mourning and it was a very sad day, it was like losing a loved one, everyone was crying, the girls were hugging and crying and saying goodbye."

Returning home, she unpacked her books from her bag and tried to imagine how she could stay motivated. Still,Khadija has said the disappointment was hard to overcome, adding that her future was "ruined."

The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, they banned female education and most employment.

The international community has made the education of girls a key demand for any future recognition of the Taliban administration, which took over the country in August as foreign forces withdrew.

Suhail Shaheen, a senior Taliban member based in Doha, has said the postponed opening of girls' schools was due to a technical issue and the Ministry of Education was working on standardized uniforms for students around the country.

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