This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The Taliban’s hard-line Islamist government in Afghanistan has eliminated the Monitoring and Evaluation Department in the Education Ministry, a move that threatens the jobs of more than 5,000 people in Kabul and across the country and further erodes secular education in Afghanistan.
The department was tasked with monitoring the quality of teaching in public and private schools in Afghanistan and has workers in all 34 provinces.
It is unclear whether the employees who lost their jobs will be transferred to other jobs, keep their jobs within a renamed department, or be left jobless.
“This step is tragic and has made us destitute,” Idris Ehsaas, one of the affected employees, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi. But he noted that the Taliban-led government could still transfer employees to schools, universities, and other educational institutions where they are needed.
Khayal Mohammad, another employee who lost his job, said some of the laid-off workers were promised they would be transferred to a new branch called the Professional Development Department.
“But only a small number of people from the Monitoring and Evaluation Department would be absorbed into this new department,” he said.
Taliban government officials and spokesmen did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the disbanding of the department.
But one Education Ministry employee said the Taliban had merely changed the name of the department to the Professional Development Department.
The ministry employee, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, added that former employees of the Monitoring and Evaluation Department will continue be employed within the new office.
Since returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban has retained a large number of the civilian employees it inherited from the previous pro-Western Afghan government but essentially disbanded its security forces.
The Islamist group has, however, imposed draconian restrictions and bans on secular education.
It has also banned women and teenage girls from schools and universities and converted many secular schools to madrasahs. Last week, the Taliban said that it would allow girls of all ages to study in madrasahs.
In a report released earlier this month, the global rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Taliban had caused “irreversible damage” to the education of both Afghan boys and girls.
“By harming the whole school system in the country, they risk creating a lost generation deprived of a quality education,” said Sahar Fetrat, a women’s rights researcher at HRW and the report’s author.