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Taliban Sets Date for University Entrance Exam, Female Students Still Excluded

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Taliban’s head of the National Examination Authority, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, has announced that this year’s national university entrance exam, known as Kankor, will be held in five stages. The first stage is set to take place on June 6th.

As reported by the Taliban Media and Information Center (GMIC), in a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, May 23, Mr. Haqqani said that in the first stage, applicants from 16 provinces will take the exam. In the second stage, scheduled on June 21 and 22, applicants from Kabul and its districts will participate.

In the third stage, the exam will be conducted in 10 provinces, scheduled for June 27 and 28.

In the fourth stage, the exam will be conducted in 7 provinces, scheduled for July 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Additionally, a supplementary exam for students who have studied abroad or failed to participate in previous stages will be held in the fifth stage on July 12th.

According to the Taliban authority, this year, a total of 75,500 candidates will be admitted, with 56,878 in public universities, 10,445 in evening faculties, 3,902 in religious studies, and 4,335 in technical institutes.

He mentioned that this year, questions in English and Arabic have been included in the question bank to assist foreign candidates. Moreover, the exam duration has been extended to over four hours to offer additional convenience.

“For the solar year 1403, several essential measures have been taken, including the distribution of entrance exam forms, registration of overseas graduates, technical checks of systems, and preparation of new servers and necessary equipment,” he said.

This announcement comes amidst the ongoing restriction barring women and girls from attending school beyond sixth grade for the third consecutive year. Additionally, female students are prohibited from participating in university entrance exams and attending universities in the last two years.

During the republic government in Afghanistan, over 200,000 applicants including female students were taking part in the university entrance exam across the country. However, following the Taliban’s return to power, the number has drastically declined to 75,500 applicants this year.

Furthermore, female students consistently achieved some of the highest scores in the university entrance exam during the previous government, often topping the exam for many years.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 has had a devastating impact on the rights of women and girls. The regime has imposed over 50 restrictions on women’s education, work, freedom of movement, and expression.

Despite international condemnation and pressure, the Taliban authorities have shown no sign of lifting the restrictions. The fundamentalist regime argues that its policies and practices are rooted in Islamic Sharia law and Afghan traditions, claiming that human rights and equality are Western concepts that clash with Islamic principles.