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West to press Taliban on girls’ education for teacher aid

AT News

KABUL: The west is planning to press the Taliban to abide by their promise to allow girls to be educated by providing funding for teachers’ salaries only in provinces in which the pledge is met.

The Taliban claimed this week the group would allow girls of secondary school age to be educated from March, the start of the next school term. Sceptical diplomats said they would need more than verbal assurances, with physical and budgetary evidence of preparations being required.

If no credible nationwide pledge was made or implemented, western diplomats said a plan to fund teachers’ salaries would go ahead only in those provinces where girls were allowed to attend school. Some provinces have been less repressive about the rights of women.

The salary funds would come from the World Bank-administered Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), the single largest source of aid to Afghanistan before the Taliban took over in August. Worth £1.5bn, the fund has been frozen since then.

Next month, the World Bank executive board is likely to discuss how more cash can be released from the fund, not just to help with humanitarian work but, for the first time since August, with the payment of key workers in health and education.

As reports of dire humanitarian need mounted in December, £280m was released but it was mainly sent to the World Food Program and Unicef, and was not spent on salaries.

Accused of letting Afghanistan fall apart, diplomats say there is a growing consensus that the west needs to go beyond conventional humanitarian aid and to fund teachers’ salaries, but only if girls are not being excluded from education.

London and other capitals have been pushing for a larger tranche of ARTF funding to be released, but are waiting on a World Bank board paper, which will map out how cash could be released for salaries in education, health and agricultural production without reaching the Taliban. The west refuses to recognise the group, and the US has imposed sanctions on many of their leaders.

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