AP – Afghan girls will be allowed to take their high school graduation exams this week, an official and documents from the Taleban government indicated on Tuesday – even though they have been banned from classrooms since the former insurgents took over the country last year.
According to two documents from the Taleban ministry of education, obtained by The Associated Press, the decision applies to 31 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces where the winter school break starts in late December.
Head of the Kabul education department Ehsanullah Kitab said the exams took place yesterday. He provided no other details and it was not clear how many teenage girls would be able to take the exam.
One of the documents, from the Kabul education department, said the exams would last from 10am to 1pm. A second document, signed by the education minister Habibullah Agha, who took office in September, said the tests would be held in 31 Afghan provinces. The three excluded provinces – Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz – have a different timetable for the school year and high school graduation exams typically take place there later.
“This is ridiculous,” said 18-year-old Najela from Kabul, giving only her first name for fear of reprisals. She would now be in 12th grade and eligible for the exam.
“We spent a whole year under tension and stress and haven’t read a single page of our textbooks.”
“How can we possibly take an exam after a year and a half that the Taleban have kept school doors closed,” she added.
The Taleban overran Afghanistan in August 2021 as United States and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country.
Despite initially promising a more moderate rule and women’s and minority rights, they have restricted rights and freedom.
A Kabul high school principal said she was informed that 12th grade girls will have just one day to take exams in 14 subjects, with 10 questions in each subject.
The principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said most girl students lacked textbooks. “Giving an exam is meaningless,” she said.