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Turkey reopens 10 girls-only schools in Afghanistan

Students in a primary school attend a lesson as education in primary and secondary schools continue in Taliban's stronghold city Kandahar, Afghanistan on 28 September 2021 [Bilal Güler/Anadolu Agency]
Students in a primary school attend a lesson in Kandahar, Afghanistan on 28 September 2021 [Bilal Güler/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey has reopened ten girls-only schools in Afghanistan, following talks with the Taliban to increase opportunity for women in the country.

During a parliamentary meeting on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that ten out of the 14 girls-only schools run by the Maarif Foundation – a Turkish state-funded organisation which runs 80 schools overall in the country – have been reopened.

According to Cavusoglu, he held talks with a visiting Taliban delegation last month, led by Afghanistan's interim foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, in which he encouraged the new Taliban government to be inclusive of all groups in the country and to allow more opportunities for women.

Alongside that, organisations like the Maarif Foundation would be proactive in carrying out those goals. "Of course our suggestions [to the Taliban] aren't enough. That's why ten out of 14 schools administered by Maarif Foundation have reopened," Cavusoglu told the parliamentary meeting.

READ: A Turkish Policy Shift towards the Taliban?

Leading up to and following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August, many countries evacuated their diplomatic and embassy staff from the country and withdrew ties. Turkey, however, remains the only NATO member state to continue its diplomatic presence within Afghanistan and has held numerous talks with the new government.

Earlier this week, it was also reported that Turkish humanitarian organisations had also distributed food aid to over 1,200 families in Afghanistan, with 4,000 more families set to receive food packages next week.

As part of those continued relations, the Turkish Foreign Minister also announced that Ankara had granted a scholarship to an Afghan girl who won first place in the national university entrance exams in Afghanistan. "Selgey Ismail will receive medical school training in Turkey with a Turkish state scholarship. We obtained a passport for her from the Taliban," Cavusoglu said.

READ: What can the Taliban offer the women of Afghanistan?

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