No indication yet on girls’ participation in upcoming university entrance exam

Kabul Education University. File photo.

KABUL, Afghanistan — With less than two weeks remaining until this year’s university entrance examination, there has been no indication from the Taliban on whether female students will be allowed to attend.

Girls who have graduated from 12th grade expressed their frustrations over being deprived of their education, urging the Taliban to allow them access to schooling. Sadaf, 19, a high school graduate, said she is eagerly counting down the days to take the entrance exam but fears she and thousands of other girls will be denied the opportunity.

“If we had been allowed to take the university entrance exam, I might now be in my first or second year at university. I wanted to get into medical school and become a good doctor for my community,” Sadaf said.

The National Examination Authority, under the Taliban administration, announced that the first phase of the 1403 solar-year university entrance examination will be held from June 6 to 9 in the provinces of Maidan Wardak, Logar, Parwan, Kapisa, Panjshir, Ghazni, Paktia, Paktika, Kunar, Zabul, Bamiyan, Samangan, Badghis, Herat, Ghor, and Nuristan.

This year’s university entrance exam will be conducted in five stages across 34 provinces. The second phase will be held on June 21-22 in Kabul, and the third phase will take place on June 27-28 in the provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, Balkh, Jawzjan, Sar-e Pul, Faryab, Urozgan, Baghlan, Daikundi, and Badakhshan. The fourth phase will include Nangarhar, Laghman, Khost, Kandahar, Helmand, Farah, and Nimroz from July 4 to 7. The fifth phase, for Afghan students who studied abroad, will be held on July 14.

Many high school female graduates expressed concerns about the lack of procedures for their participation in the entrance exam. “Boys are allowed to take the university entrance exam, but we are not. We have the right to take the exam. After studying for twelve years, what will happen to our efforts and hard work?” a female high school graduate said.

Speaking at the Global Security Forum in Doha, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hekmat Khalil Karzai emphasized the importance of education to prevent youth from becoming cannon fodder. “Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls cannot go to school after grade six. They cannot go to universities, they cannot work, they cannot even have a business,” he said.

Since returning to power, the Taliban has deprived girls and women of their education, university attendance, and work.