A group of female medical students in the southern Kandahar province expressed disappointment after they were barred from sitting the exit exam while their fellow male graduates took the national test on Tuesday.
According to the students, they received the exam attendance form, but were informed via phone call only one day before the exam that they would not be allowed to participate, and their participation was suspended.
“We have the right to take the exit exam, which is necessary to obtain certification of our education documents from the government and enable us to work,” said Naazo, expressing despair at the Taliban’s decision to suspend female students’ participation in the exam.
Stuck at home, Naazo said that the Taliban’s restrictions on women have negatively impacted her mental health.
Fatima, a nursing student, emphasised the importance of giving girls the right to attend the exit exam and called on the Taliban to reopen schools and universities for female students. “Islam grants equal rights to men and women, but the Taliban is violating women’s rights in Afghanistan,” she argued.
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Fatima expressed her disappointment, saying, “We worked hard to prepare for this exam and even received the application form to attend it. However, they called me yesterday, just one day before the exam, and told me that I couldn’t sit for it. Is it our fault?”
Officials from medical institutes in Kandahar said that they made significant efforts to include the female students in the exit exam process, but their efforts did not succeed.
200 female nursing and midwifery students were to sit their exit exam in Kandahar this year.
On 13 February, the Taliban indefinitely postponed exit exams for female medical students while male students in Kabul sat for their exams as scheduled on 18 February.
The Afghanistan Medical Council and National Examination Authority, the two main bodies responsible for organising and administering the exit exam, said after the postponement, that a new date for the exam will be scheduled for female students. However, the date has not yet been announced.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Afghanistan has called on the Taliban to immediately set a new date for female medical students to sit their exit exams.