Analysts say the reopening of universities is a "critical marker" on the Taliban's road to international recognition.

Officials say universities in Laghman, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Nimroz, Farah and Helmand provinces opened with more scheduled to resume operations elsewhere in the country later this month.
Officials say universities in Laghman, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Nimroz, Farah and Helmand provinces opened with more scheduled to resume operations elsewhere in the country later this month. (AFP)

Some public universities have opened in Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban seized power in August, with a trickle of women attending classes that officials said would be segregated by gender.

Most secondary schools for girls and all public universities were shuttered when the group stormed back to power, sparking fears women would again be barred from education — as happened during the Taliban's first rule, from 1996-2001.

"It's a moment of joy for us that our classes have started," Zarlashta Haqmal, who studies law and political science at Nangarhar University, told AFP news agency.

"But we are still worried that the Taliban might stop them."

An AFP correspondent saw one small group of women, wearing the all-covering burqa, enter Laghman University early on Wednesday.

The men who attended — ferried to the campus in local taxis and buses — were dressed in traditional tunics known as shalwar kameez.

Attendance was very light and Taliban forces guarded the entrance, a tripod-mounted machine gun resting on a boom gate.

READ MORE: Taliban to reopen public universities in Afghanistan

The men who attended —  ferried to the campus in local taxis and buses  — were dressed in traditional tunics known as shalwar kameez.
The men who attended — ferried to the campus in local taxis and buses — were dressed in traditional tunics known as shalwar kameez. (AFP)

'Critical marker'

The reopenings come a week after a Taliban delegation held talks with Western officials in Norway, where they were pressed on improving the rights of women to unlock billions of dollars in seized assets and frozen foreign aid.

No country has yet recognised the new Taliban administration, which has promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterised their first stint in power.

The Taliban has imposed several restrictions on women, including banning them from many government jobs.

The Taliban say all girls' schools will reopen by the end of March.

"The reopening of public universities... would bode well for the return of girls (to school) around the country," United States Institute of Peace analyst Andrew Watkins told AFP.

"This is the Taliban taking a step that would be a critical marker in moving closer towards recognition."

READ MORE:UN: Over 100 former Afghan officials killed since Taliban takeover

Source: AFP