Taliban supreme leader appoints new education minister

Thursday, Sep 22, 2022

KABUL: The Taliban supreme leader has installed a loyalist cleric as Afghanistan’s education minister, with the Islamists doubling down on their ban on secondary education for girls.

Habibullah Agha, a member of reclusive supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada’s inner circle, was named the new education minister in a reshuffle announced by the government spokesman on Tuesday.

"We can’t make any plans on our own. We don’t do that. Rather, I will act according to the instructions given by the supreme leader," Agha, 68, told AFP on Wednesday. He refused to share his personal views on girls’ education, and said he had not received any orders yet on the matter.

Many conservative Afghan clerics within the Taliban are sceptical of modern education. "The appointment of Habibullah Agha... indicates the Taliban are elevating loyalists who reject the reopening of girls’ schools," said Nishank Motwani, an Afghan specialist and fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

Outgoing education minister Noorullah Munir was in charge when the government announced the reopening of girls’ schools in March. Akhundzada blocked the decision in a move that upset the Taliban’s political leadership in Kabul.