Statement in response to the suspension of girls’ return to secondary school in Afghanistan

Published 23. Mar 2022
By Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council

“This morning’s announcement that teenage girls across the country will not be able to attend secondary education until further notice casts a dark shadow on the start of the school year in Afghanistan. Our teams on the ground tell us that in places where we work, girls were excited to return to school after eight months of closure, but arrived this morning only to be then turned away.

“We hope the deeply concerning announcement by the Ministry of Education will be reversed. We expect the Taliban government to allow all girls and boys across the whole country to resume their complete education cycle, in line with earlier public assurances they have given. Limiting girls’ schooling to primary education will devastate their future and the future of Afghanistan.”


  • Today marks the start of the school year for most provinces of Afghanistan.
  • Despite previous commitments that they would allow teenage girls to resume secondary education, the Taliban authorities have now announced girls' secondary and high schools will be suspended until further notice.
  • Girls’ Secondary schools have been mostly closed in Afghanistan for the past eight months, except in 6 of 34 provinces.
  • NRC teams observed that where Afghan secondary schools were open for girls in those months, this was largely limited to the main cities.

Facts and figures:

  • UNICEF estimates that over 4 million children are out of school, of which 60 per cent are girls.
  • About 8 million children in crisis in Afghanistan require emergency education in 2022 -  an increase of nearly threefold compared to needs at the start of 2021.
  • Aid organisations call for US$162 million to address the urgent need of 1.5 million children and youth in the 2022 Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan.
  • Qualified female teachers are scarce in remote areas, largely due to a lack of girls’ enrolment past primary grades, which further limits access for girls, making the issue a cyclical one.
  • NRC assisted 56,500 students and teachers (49 per cent female) with emergency education in 2021.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: