Washington: Condemning the U-turn over re-opening girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected the Taliban's excuses for reversing their commitment to the people of Afghanistan.
"Education is a human right, and the United States rejects the Taliban's excuses for reversing their commitment to the people of Afghanistan that all Afghans would be able to return to school at all levels today. As many girls and women were returning to secondary classrooms across the country, they were told to go home until further notice," Blinken said in a statement on Women and Girls' Education in Afghanistan.
Blinken said that the US stands with Afghan girls and their families, who see education as a path to realising the full potential of Afghanistan's society and economy.
"This decision by the Taliban, if it is not swiftly reversed, will profoundly harm the Afghan people, the country's prospects for economic growth, and the Taliban's ambition to improve their relations with the international community," he said.
The UN human rights chief also shared her "profound frustration and disappointment" that six months after the Taliban seized power, high school girls have yet to return to the classroom.
"The de facto authorities' failure to adhere to commitments to reopen schools for girls above the sixth grade - in spite of repeated commitments towards girls' education, including during my visit to Kabul two weeks ago - is deeply damaging for Afghanistan", High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
Although high schools were set to open their doors to girls nationwide, Taliban authorities reportedly reversed the move early on Wednesday, pending a ruling made on the uniforms they must wear.
"The denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls - beyond their equal right to education, it leaves them more exposed to violence, poverty and exploitation," Bachelet explained.
In a statement, the UN Secretary-General said deeply regretted the Taliban's suspension of the return to school for high school girls.
"The start of the new school year has been anticipated by all students, girls and boys, and parents and families", said Antonio Guterres. He added that the Taliban move "despite repeated commitments, is a profound disappointment and deeply damaging for Afghanistan.
The denial of education not only violates the equal rights of women and girls to education, it also jeopardizes the country's future in view of the tremendous contributions by Afghan women and girls.
"I urge the Taliban de facto authorities to open schools for all students without any further delay."