Students attend class at Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, Afghanistan (Credit: University Media Center via AP)
Students attend class at Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, Afghanistan (Credit: University Media Center via AP)

Afghanistan: The Taliban regime must stop its attacks on the teaching profession

published 1 June 2022 updated 3 June 2022

Education International condemns the abusive measures imposed by the Taliban government on universities and higher education institutions in Afghanistan. These measures are in clear violation of the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, as enshrined in the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of higher education teaching personnel.

In what appears to be an attempt to purge the country’s education system from any independent voice, Afghan universities were recently asked to denounce the “corrupt, incompetent and destructive” teachers within their ranks. The letter from the authorities also commands higher education institutions to report any teacher or professor who had connection with previous governments.

Education International reaffirms the critical importance of academic freedom for fostering independent thinking and expression, strengthening democracy, and contributing to the common good of societies. The 2019 Education International Resolution on Academic Freedom in Higher Education states that “higher education teaching personnel and researchers should […] enjoy, without interference, internationally recognised civil, political, social and cultural rights applicable to all citizens”.

Education International calls on the Afghan authorities to respect the rights and freedoms of education professionals, including academic freedom.

In a resolution adopted last December, the Executive Board of Education International expressed grave concerns about the catastrophic situation of democracy and education in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over in August of 2021, and particularly regarding the safety of educators and equal access to education for girls. This new attack on education and academic freedom is a further confirmation that despite their initial promises, the current regime is no different from the Taliban rule in the 1990s.

Education International stands in full solidarity with its member organisations and the teaching community in Afghanistan.