Girls in Afghanistan will be allowed to take high school graduation exams this week, official and Taliban government documents said on Tuesday – even though they have been barred from classrooms since the former insurgents took over the country last year.
According to two documents obtained from the Taliban Ministry of Education obtained by The Associated Press, the decision applies to 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, which begin winter school holidays in late December.
Ehsanullah Kitab, head of the Kabul Education Department, said that the exams will be held on Wednesday. He did not provide further details, and it was not clear how many teenage girls could take the test.
One of the documents, the Kabul Department of Education, said the exams would run from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. A second document signed by Education Minister Habibullah Agha, who took office in September, said the tests would be held in 31 provinces of Afghanistan. . . The three restricted provinces – Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz – have different timetables for the school year and high school graduation exams are usually held later.
1 of 2
“It’s ridiculous,” said Najela, 18, from Kabul, who would only give her first name for fear of reprisals. He was now studying in the twelfth standard and could take the exam. “We spent a year under tension and stress and didn’t read a single page of our textbooks.”
“How can we conduct exams after a year and a half when the Taliban kept the school doors closed,” he added.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, as US and NATO forces were in the final weeks of withdrawing from the country after 20 years of war. Although they initially promised more moderate governance and women’s and minority rights, they restricted rights and freedoms and widely enforced a strict interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia.
1 of 2
They banned girls from middle and high school, restricted women from many jobs, and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks, gyms and entertainment.
Women have not been barred from entering universities since the Taliban era, and the latest changes mean Afghan girls with high school diplomas will be able to apply to universities after Wednesday’s exam.
The principal of Kabul High School said that he was informed that he was informed that he had only one day for the twelfth class students to take the exam in 14 subjects with 10 questions in each subject. The principal, who did not want to reveal his name for fear of reprisals, said that most of the schoolgirls lack textbooks.
1 of 2
“Taking the exam is pointless,” he said.
Students and their female teachers will be required to wear a hijab or headscarf in accordance with the Taliban’s dress code for women, and the use of mobile phones will be prohibited during the exam. Girls who fail or fail Wednesday’s exam will be allowed to retake the exam in mid-March after the winter break.
The Taliban’s treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan has come under heavy criticism. Earlier this month, a UN panel of experts said it could constitute a crime against humanity and should be investigated and prosecuted under international law, a charge denied by the Taliban.