By: Shukria Kohistani
A number of Afghan school students on the threshold of arriving the 1,400 solar year want to happily start the new curriculum year by going to school. This comes as the country’s ministry of education has recently announced its decision on banning girls 12 years old and up from singing the national anthem or other group songs in mixed company. This has been met with a strong backlash from civil society activists in social media, but officials of the ministry say the decision won’t be implemented due to complaints of school students and their families.
A number of school students are either agree and disagree about the recent decision of the ministry of education. In their interviews with The Kabul Times, the students had different visions about the MoE’s decision on banning the girls from singing in a mixed group.
“Singing has no connection to going back from our education and studies. If a student has talent and capability, singing will never prevent us from education; therefore, the recent decision made by the ministry of education is not serious as school is a location for learning and there should be no limitations and condition discouraging students,” said Muzhda a school student.
On the other hand, a number of female students from conservative families by welcoming the recent decision of the ministry of education say singing in schools if allowed in accordance to the law should not be used in government ceremonies as most families are against singing of girls in ceremonies.
A spokesperson to the ministry of education says the recent decision has been made based on continued demand of students and their families.
Following serious reaction to the recent decision of the ministry on banning girls 12 years old and up from singing the national anthem or other group songs in mixed company, British government announced it would review its assistance to education sector of Afghanistan.
According to The Telegraph, the British government has said it is urgently investigating whether Afghanistan government has banned girls from singing in schools funded by UK aid.
The order by the Afghan government stated that teenage schoolgirl choirs could only perform to purely female audiences and could not be trained by male tutors.
Britain has poured tens of millions dollars into education and government salaries in the past two decades, helping 300,000 girls go to school in the past six years.
“We are urgently seeking clarification from the Afghan Ministry of Education on these reports, and any potential implications for UK-funded education work,” a spokesman for the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said.
Meanwhile, director of Afghanistan National Music Institute Ahmad Nasir Sarmast in reaction to the MoE’s recent decision has said the decision is against national and international laws as it violates clearly the girls’ rights to music and singing.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in a statement on Thursday said that “the right to education, freedom of expression and access to artistic skills are fundamental rights of all children, without discrimination based on age or gender,” reacting to a decision by the Ministry of Education to ban public singing for schoolgirls.
Meanwhile, the decision has been also met with a strong backlash from civil society and artists of the country as Farhad Daria, the country’s top singer, in his Facebook page considered the recent decision of the ministry as a tool to make some extremist and fundamental groups happy.
Based on the decision, girls who are over the age of 12 are only allowed to sing the anthem and other cultural songs at gatherings of women, not in mixed company.