Teachers concerned about sitting religious-knowledge exams

A school in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

Teachers have been facing a setback as a new decision will leave them with no option but to take a religious examination that will ultimately decide the fate of their employment in the country’s education sector.

The Taliban has started verbal and written tests for school teachers on religious subjects. Teachers see this as an insult to their community.

The teachers explained that each school has received letters, informing them about a test that will take place in local education departments in all areas.

“We have been informed by the Taliban that we will have a test and based on the information we have, it will be held in the local education departments by delegations assigned by the education ministry who will ask religious-related questions,” said Shakeela, a teacher from a state school.

Basic matters such as the rules and regulations in the daily practices of Muslims like prayers and other matters are expected to be asked, teachers explained.

“I have been given a book known as the education of the Quran to read, but I fear that if I fail in the exam, I will lose my job,” she added.

A girls class at a school in the city of Kandahar. Sept. 2022.

Another female teacher who wished not to be named said she has worked for over 30 years in the education sector but the new move, according to her, is an attempt to send women home.

“Teachers have been asked what is a daily plan?… What is ablution?… They have told teachers ‘you know nothing about the religion,’” said the teacher.

Meanwhile, some teachers said that Shia Muslims understand Jafari jurisprudence but that the Taliban will ask them about Hanafi jurisprudence.

“I am afraid of failing because I don’t know some matters about the Hanafi jurisprudence and there are some differences between the two schools of thought,” said Husain Muzafari, a teacher in Kabul.

According to teachers, they attended a test once in two years under the previous government through which they would be promoted. They said the Taliban has brought in the same process but with different content.