Schools in Afghanistan opened for the new academic year on Wednesday, the education ministry said, with girls banned from joining secondary-level classes for the third year in a row.

Taliban authorities barred girls from secondary school in March 2022, after surging back to power in mid-2021 and ousting the Western-backed government.

The education ministry announced the new school year on Tuesday, a day before the start of the Afghan calendar's new year.

"The new school year... will start in all provinces with the ringing of the school bell at a ceremony" in Kabul, the announcement said.

Women journalists were expressly forbidden from covering the ceremony in an invite issued to media outlets.

Government universities also recently started the new academic year, but women have been blocked from attending since December 2022.