Female students devastated at ban on writing university entrance exam

Students at Kabul University. Sept. 2022.

Female students across Afghanistan are devastated that the Taliban held this year’s university entrance exams exclusively for male students.

Girls have said they spent years preparing to write the exam, known as Kankor, and are extremely disappointed at having been excluded.

Roya Sultani, one young woman who had eagerly been waiting to write the exam, described her exclusion as being one of the most “bitter moments” of her life.

“I had a dream that one day I would study, pass the Kankor and succeed in the field I am interested in. I was in the classroom when I suddenly heard that we will not be allowed to take the Kankor exam this year. It gave me a very unpleasant feeling and I am very sad,” Sultani said.

Despite the exam being held in eleven provinces, including Bamiyan, the Taliban refused to allow any female high school graduates from writing the exam.

Girls who have been deprived of the exam criticize the Taliban, stating they have taken away their rights and opportunities for education.

Asra, a high school graduate, urged the international community to take practical action instead of only making statements.

“The international community and our brothers always feel sorry for us. We’re tired of your statements; you need to take action,” Asra said.

She also called on the Taliban to lift restrictions and allow women and girls to continue their education.

In 2021, the Taliban closed schools to girls above the sixth grade and then in December last year, they banned women and girls from attending university or other higher education centers. The Taliban has now extended the education ban to include the Kankor exam.

“I hope that the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) makes a decision regarding the education of girls and the closure of universities and saves a huge part of the society from uncertainty. Our sisters should continue their education. Education is the way to bring peace to society,” said Farzam, a teacher at an educational center.

Educators, such as Farzam Ostad, stress the importance of education in bringing peace to society and call on the Taliban to reconsider their decisions and reopen universities for female students.