Girls share ‘painful’ ordeal of not taking university entrance exam

The Taliban-run examination board on Monday announced the results of this year’s university entrance exam, which was for male students only – as female students were banned.

Thousands of girls across the country watched the announcement of results on television screens, but deep feelings of disappointment gripped them. These girls had studied just as hard as their male peers for the exam but were deprived of the opportunity due to the Taliban’s restrictions.

The exam was held in five rounds, encompassing over 88,000 male students, including those from religious schools. Taliban officials who announced the results at a ceremony in Kabul on Monday said that no one failed the exam and all were given a chance to be enrolled in private and higher education institutes around the country.

“Today, when the results were announced, it was the most difficult day of my life,” said Simran, a highschool graduate from Kabul.

Simran, a high school graduate.

“I studied at school for two years in the hope of being enrolled at a university to continue my higher education but unfortunately, the Taliban did not allow girls to attend the exam,” she added.

Shamayil, another high school graduate, shared a similar ordeal, saying that she is worried about her future.

“I wanted to take the entrance exam, but they didn’t allow us to take the exam… I don’t know what our future will be,” she said.

This year was the first time in over 20 years that female candidates were not allowed to sit the university entrance exam.

“This year is the first year that girls did not participate in the university entrance exam, and today when the results were announced all were boys, it was very painful that we could not even participate,” said Muzhda, a high school graduate from Kabul.

Over 1.1 million girls have been banned from attending secondary schools over the past two years due to the Taliban’s restrictions and female students have been barred from universities since last December. The Taliban has also banned women from running beauty salons, and working for NGOs and the government, leaving thousands unemployed.