“Professor exodus” the brightest minds of Afghanistan leave the country to escape Taliban rule again

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Afghan professors are leaving not just because of security and ideological issues but also because of severe salary reductions and the losing government benefits such as pensions and housing plans.

New Delhi: On July 16 the corpse of Mumtaz Sherzai, a professor at Khost University and a former prosecutor, was found to have indications of beatings and torture. International organizations have noted that he was “highly vulnerable as a target of the Taliban”. One month earlier, Nematullah Wali, a professor at Jalalabad was shot dead..

These killings have highlighted how hazardous the situation in Afghanistan has turned out to be for those with a high education after the Taliban invasion in August. It’s in the midst of all this that an BBC study that was released earlier in the month estimated that nearly 400 faculty members at three of the country’s best universities have left the country since the beginning of August.

ThePrint spoke to experts as well as Afghan scholars who described the situation an “professor exodus”.

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They also said the fact that academics have fled their institutions not solely because of ideologies or safety concerns as well as because they have stopped receiving government-funded benefits like pensions and housing and also saw their pay drastically reduced following the Taliban overthrow.

The majority of Afghan professors have left for the USA or and the UK, Europe, and East Asia by transiting through neighboring Iran.

“Fourth professor departure in Afghan the history of Afghanistan’

According to Boingam , Aziz Amin -the former chief secretary to Afghanistan’s former president, Ashraf Ghaniwho is now seeking refuge in the UK and said that”the “exodus” was the fourth of its kind.

“We saw a similar exodus of professors when the Soviets invaded the country in 1979, when the Mujahideen came to power from 1992 to 1994, and when the Taliban took over from 1996 to 2001, and now again in 2021,” the man stated to Boingam .

Amin said an estimate of the amount of academics who leave the country could increase within the next year, reaching 800.

“The Taliban isn’t inclined towards educated individuals. They prefer those who have been educated in religious madrassas,” Amin remarked.

In addition to making drastic changes to the school curriculum and closing schools for girls who are above sixth grade, experts claimed that the Taliban plans to revamp higher education too. The Taliban announced in September that they would be overhauling higher education. Taliban Minister of education Sheikh Molvi Noorullah stated that master’s and PhD degrees aren’t worth it.

Lark Escobar U.S.-based person-securing specialist as well as evacuation coordinator who was handling the case of Sherzai The infighting in the Taliban hinders an agreement on the policies.

“The Taliban are trying to develop their own educational system but haven’t yet reached any agreement as of yet. There are several factions competing for power , and there’s no agreement on policy as at this time,” she told Boingam

“Abroad-educated people are the most targeted’

Sayed Ziauddin Hashami 44, a an assistant professor for agricultural sciences in Bamyan University, who now lives in New Zealand, said foreign-educated professors are “major targets” for the Taliban.

“Some professors have contacts with international NGOs which could be used against them too,” he said.

Hashami first fled from Iran then moved to New Zealand in January. He estimated that , out of Bamyan’s 200 professors 20-25 have left.

Kabul University, the largest of its kind in Afghanistan reported to have lost around 250 professors from 820.

Mahmood Marhoon, a professor in literary studies in Kabul University who now lives in the US claims that, when the Taliban took over his monthly income in the amount of 4,500 Afghani (Rs 40,383) was almost halved by just 27,000 Afghani (Rs 24,230).

“It was not just the cut of pay. We’ve seen in previous years how Taliban is adamant about academics so I knew that I wouldn’t have much hope of success in the event that I decided to stay. Also, my wife had been one of the targets since she was employed by the government of Ashraf Ghani.” Marhoon told Boingam.

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