The Taliban's top leader has announced that the radical Islamist group will support modern education in Afghanistan and some tribal areas of Pakistan located on the Afghan borders.
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said that they want to improve their relations with the world and that to do so, they will support modern education and respect other ethnic and religious communities within Afghanistan, according to Mushtaq Yusufzai and Fakhar Rehman of NBC News.
In an apparent attempt to rehabilitate the Taliban's image – damaged when its fighters shot Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai in the head because she had campaigned for girls' education, and when it was blamed for killing 20 polio workers – Omar issued a statement Tuesday that struck a more conciliatory, inclusive approach.
In a statement, Mullah Omar said that it was "a fundamental need of every society in the present time." He has never before expressed support for modern education.
An Afghan Taliban official, speaking anonymously after the statement was issued, said that girls would be allowed to go to school if the Taliban returned to power. He, however, said that Taliban would continue to oppose co-education and would build separate institutions for the girls where they would be taught according to Islam's Sharia.
"We learnt a lot from the past mistakes and would not repeat those if came into power. But that doesn't mean we would compromise on our Islamic values," the Taliban official said. He added that the Taliban had formed a commission that had drafted a new education policy so the international community could not blame them for opposing education.
A new animated series, The Burka Avenger, is set to premiere in August in Pakistan to promote the education of women in the country. This animated series will not only entertain, but will help promote knowledge about how girls can pursue education opportunities. The animated series, which follows Malala Yousafzai's powerful speech at the UN about the need for universal education, will feature a female superhero who fights for women's education rights.
The Burka Avenger, named Jiya, is a mild-mannered schoolteacher, who loves reading and writing. She knows martial arts and becomes a superhero when thugs try to shut down a girls' school in her village of Halwapur. Jiya transforms into a burka-wearing hero who uses her martial arts skills to protect every student's right to learn.
According to the Burka Avenger website, The Burka Avenger is an amazing action-comedy animated TV series that follows the adventures of the titular character and three young kids in the imaginary city of Halwapur as they fight the evil Baba Bandook and his henchmen. The Burka Avenger TV series' main goals are to make people laugh, to entertain and to send out positive social messages to youth.
In some of Pakistan's tribal areas, girls are not allowed to go to school. It's not official government policy, but some terrorist groups in those areas are against the education of girls and take steps to ensure that their policy is enacted.