School starts in Afghanistan without girls

A new school year has started in Afghanistan, but without girls. The Taliban have prohibited female students from receiving education beyond the sixth grade. The move has drawn growing international criticism.

Schools across Afghanistan began classes this week for the new academic year. On Wednesday, representatives from the Taliban interim government attended a ceremony in Kabul for the start of classes.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said: "The first priority is Islamic studies and beliefs. After that, you can also learn science."

The Taliban have been governing the country based on their own interpretation of Islamic law since retaking power 3 years ago. The group has barred women from higher education.

A 14-year-old girl living in Kabul says that she is very disappointed. She had prepared a bag and a uniform, hoping that the Taliban would allow them to join classes.

She said: "It's very painful that schools are still closed to us. I want authorities to reopen them. Girls also have dreams of becoming doctors or engineers in the future."

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has posted on social media, urging an end to what it calls an unjustifiable ban on girls' education.