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King’s Among Universities Offering Free Courses To Afghan Women Under Taliban Ban

In the context of the Taliban’s education ban on women, the online learning platform FutureLearn has provided Afghan women free university courses. Roar writer Jana Bazeed discusses King’s recent partnership with the learning platform, and the implications of trying to educate women who are being repressed. 

Last month, FutureLearn announced that they will be providing Afghan women with free access to their digital learning platform.

On 22 December 2022, the learning platform released a statement announcing that girls and women with internet access will be able to study over 1,200 courses from top British and international institutions at no cost. This access will be provided for the duration of the Taliban’s ban on women’s access to higher education. King’s College London is one of 21 Russel Group universities partnered with FutureLearn in this endeavour.

This action comes in response to Taliban’s internationally condemned crackdown on women’s access to education.

FutureLearn’s Chairman, Jo Johnson, called this decision a lifeline, stating: “While this is of course no silver bullet – poor connectivity, poverty and language barriers mean many women may not be able to access the material – it can nonetheless play a valuable part in enabling women in Afghanistan to assert their inalienable human right to education.”

While online education may provide salvation to some, many are unable to reap its benefits. Stable internet connections remain a pipe dream for those in poorer rural areas, and even for areas with internet access, it is difficult to manage work with Afghanistan’s rolling blackouts.

Ahead of a Security Council meeting regarding the situation in Afghanistan, signatories to the Women, Peace and Security Shared Commitments reaffirmed their condemnation of Taliban’s actions, stating: “a stable, economically viable, and peaceful Afghanistan is only attainable and sustainable if all Afghans, including women and girls, have access to and receive education, and fully, equally, and meaningfully participate in and contribute to the country’s future and development.”

The ban on women’s participation in higher education is the latest of Taliban’s latest decrees stripping women of their fundamental human rights. Taliban’s imposition of strict laws under their claims of abiding by Sharia Law has led to the social exclusion of women. These actions have been condemned as Unislamic  by Muslim scholars and world leaders globally.

For more information about FreeLearn’s initiative, visit their FAQ page.

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