Taliban regime allows young Afghan girls to take final secondary school exams
Afghan girls will be able to take their final secondary school exams today, according to documents cited by the Associated Press (AP) agency, despite the Taliban regime banning them from classrooms.
The ruling applies to 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces where winter school holidays begin at the end of December, according to two Ministry of Education documents from the Taliban, who took control of the country in 2021.
Ehsanullah Kitab, head of the education department in the capital, Kabul, said the exams would take place today, without providing further details, namely how many girls could take the exam.
One of the documents, from the Kabul education department, said that the exams would take place from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (6:00 am to 9:00 am in Lisbon).
A second document, signed by Education Minister Habibullah Agha, said the tests would be carried out in 31 Afghan provinces.
The three excluded provinces – Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz – have a different school calendar for the school year and secondary school leaving exams usually take place later.
“This is ridiculous,” said Najela, an 18-year-old student from Kabul. “We spent a whole year under tension and stress and we didn’t read a single page of our school books,” she underlined.
“How can we take an exam after a year and a half in which the Taliban have kept school doors closed?” added the young woman.
The Taliban regime took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, when US and NATO forces were preparing to withdraw from the country after 20 years of insurgency.
Despite initially promising a more moderate government and protection of the rights of women and minorities, the authorities have restricted rights and freedoms and largely implemented a restrictive interpretation of Islamic law.
The regime banned children and young people from primary and secondary education, although it did not deny them access to universities. In other words, young Afghan girls who pass today’s exams will potentially be able to enroll in universities.
The principal of a Kabul secondary school told the AP that the girls, most of whom do not have textbooks, will have just one day to take exams in 14 subjects, with 10 questions for each subject.
Students and their teachers will be required to wear a hijab or a scarf to cover their heads.
Young women who are unable to attend or who fail today’s exams will be able to try again in mid-March after the winter break.
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