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The United Nations on Sunday called on the Taliban to reopen high schools for girls across Afghanistan, condemning the ban imposed exactly one year ago as tragic and shameful, AFP reported.

Weeks after the Taliban seized power last August, the Taliban reopened high schools for boys on Sept. 18, 2021, but banned female high school students from attending classes.

A few months later, on March 23, the Ministry of Education opened high schools for girls, but hours later the Taliban leadership ordered the classes closed again.

Since then, more than a million teenage girls have been deprived of education across the country, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.

U.N. head António Guterres called on the Taliban to lift the ban.

A year of lost knowledge and opportunities they can never get back, Guterres tweeted.

Several Taliban spokesmen said the ban was temporary, but they also cited a range of justifications for closing schools, from lack of funds to the time needed to rebuild the curriculum to meet Islamic norms.

Earlier this month, local media quoted the minister of education as saying that it was a cultural issue because many villagers did not want their daughters to attend school.

Having seized power last August 15 amid a chaotic withdrawal of foreign troops, the Taliban promised a milder version of their harsh Islamist regime, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

But within days, they began imposing severe restrictions on girls and women to conform to their harsh vision of Islam - effectively pushing them out of public life.

In addition to closing high schools for girls, the Taliban banned women from many government jobs and ordered them to cover themselves in public, preferably with an all-encompassing burqa.

Some girls' high schools remained open in provinces far from the central power centers of Kabul and Kandahar because of pressure from families and tribal leaders.

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