How can a thinking person thrive in Taliban-terrorized Afghanistan? The short answer is he – or she – can’t. The country is now run by simple-minded Muslim fanatics, and they are determined to transform the country’s universities into academies of ignorance, appointing those just as troglodytic as themselves, the graduates of madrasas, to head the country’s remaining institutions of higher education. More on this latest demonstration of the terror group’s determination to destroy what life of the mind still exists in Afghanistan can be found here: “Afghan Professors Say Taliban-Appointed Clerics Taking University Jobs,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 19, 2023:
The Taliban’s efforts to eradicate secular education has raised fears that the moves are likely to contribute to the spread of extremist ideologies in Afghanistan.
Several public university professors have complained that Taliban members and those around them have started taking some of the top positions at universities and other educational institutions in Afghanistan as the Taliban-led government’s Higher Education Ministry increases its control of the school system.
The Taliban is determined to suppress all advanced and secular education, by appointing its own members, who have no professional qualifications whatsoever, and whose sole education consists of what they learned in madrasahs, to head universities. It is enough that they are True Believers in Islam, the only qualification anyone needs in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to work in, or even direct, educational institutions.
According to the professors, some of whom spoke to RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, Akram Shah Asim has been appointed president at Kandahar University, while Mohammad Yaqub Haqqani has been installed in the same post at Khost University. The social media pages of the state universities now show the two — both of whom come from the madrasah religious school system — as presidents of the universities.
Neither Akram Shah Asim nor Mohammad Yaqub Haqqani has studied secular subjects; they are solely products of madrasahs of an unusually primitive kind. One can imagine their resentment of the faculty now under their rule, who teach secular subjects and whose superior education is apparent in their every word. And imagine how the faculty, in turn, resent being ruled over by those they rightly consider to be intellectual nonentities….
The professors said that most of the vice chancellors of the financial and administrative departments at universities have also been filled with people linked to the Taliban, and that people close to the Taliban have taken the lead in other scientific departments….
So it is not just the university presidents who are appointed by the Taliban, but those who control the day-to-day operations as vice-chancellors of financial and administrative departments.
The Taliban has taken over all of the Afghan educational establishment, and turned all parts of it – secular schools, public universities, and vocational training centers – into schools of Islamic education, that is, into glorified madrasahs. There is no place left for a purely secular education.
The group also has banned women from attending university and girls above the sixth grade from going to school.
The girls who have already been educated, up to the high school level, will now be prevented from entering universities. And young girls, now in elementary school, will endure an even more severe deprivation – they are forbidden to go to school after the sixth grade. They will have, after all, attained an Islamically marriageable age by the sixth grade- – and marriage and motherhood are to be their entire Taliban-molded future. There’s no need to waste resources on educating them.
The Taliban’s efforts to eradicate secular education and replace it with radical religious instruction has raised fears among observers that the moves are likely to contribute to the spread of extremist ideologies in Afghanistan.
With every step the Taliban makes to eradicate secular education and to everywhere replace it with an “Islamic” one, this not only makes “likely,” it makes certain that the whole nation will turn into one vast swamp of Taliban ideology.
“When I was in the university, they brought many changes. In the university, they identified those who were like-minded [and] brought them to professorships, heads of departments, vice presidents, and presidents of universities,” Mohammad Qayyum Sial, a former professor at Paktia University who went to France a year ago to continue his studies, told Radio Azadi from France….
It’s not only the presidents and vice-chancellors of universities whom the Taliban has been appointing; it has turned its attention to the teaching staff, and replaced with Taliban true believers many of the professors who were properly trained in secular institutions. Some of these professors have been fired. Others, appalled at this turn of events in their universities, now seek employment abroad, or choose to resign to take up entirely new careers in Afghanistan, outside of education, with both their status and finances suffering. Such a loss constitutes a kind of internal brain drain that will have ruinous effects on the future of Afghanistan, its economy, and its culture.
In this topsy-turvical hell that the Taliban has created, the uneducated and ignorant are assigned to important academic positions, where they are allowed to lord it over the educated professors, who have arrived at their positions only after decades of study. As a consequence, these professors naturally bristle at their treatment, and make haste, if they can, to find positions outside Afghanistan. That is not easy. The students, too, become confused: they see that hyper-religious louts are running things in universities, and are naturally fearful of what Afghan academic life is turning into under Taliban rule, with those universities becoming glorified madrasahs. Quite justifiably, they are discouraged from following an academic career that inexorably will end, if they remain in Afghanistan, in their being subservient to fanatical ignoramuses.
Hamed Obaidi, a spokesman for the Higher Education Ministry in the former government, also noted that the Taliban has made many changes in the leadership of public universities and appointed its own people. In his opinion, these appointments will have a negative impact on the educational process and on academic institutions.
According to Article 23 of the Law for Civilian Higher Education in Afghanistan, a university president should be appointed from among a group of professors who have the proper academic qualifications, a guideline Obaidi says needs to be followed to ensure quality education….
Clearly Article 23 is not being followed by the Taliban. No academic qualifications are necessary. Even someone who has not finished high school can be given a university position. The two things required of candidates to head or to teach at an Afghan university today are fanatical Islamic faith and loyalty to the Taliban. Professional achievements count for little; they may even be a hindrance. A professor of biology who teaches evolution rather than the Islamic version of creationism may be out of a job; a professor of physics who casts doubt on Muhammad’s journey on his winged steed Buraq up to heaven and back within 24 hours will definitely be fired; a professor of world history who treats with respect the history of Infidel peoples may be dismissed.
If the Taliban continues on this path, the Afghan universities will become, as I noted above, glorified madrasahs. Such primitive schooling will hasten a brain drain, with professors trying to find work abroad or giving up academic life entirely. University students serious about their studies will also choose to move abroad, to enroll in universities where the professors, and not Taliban stooges, are in charge. Thus does Afghanistan, in thrall to a fanatical brand of Islam, end up destroying, or expelling, or causing to flee, the country’s entire educated class. This will all end very badly.