Girls who were forbidden to attend school for a year by the Taliban have been asked to appear for their twelfth-grade graduation examination.
Two documents from the Taliban ministry of education that The Associated Press was able to obtain the state that the decision applies to 31 of Afghanistan's 34 regions, where the winter vacation begins in late December. High school graduation exams often occur later in the three excluded provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Nimroz because of their varied school calendars.
The education ministry withheld information about the examinations, including how many students were taking them, and forbade media access to schools where they were being held this Wednesday.
Since the Taliban took over last year, schools have been closed for most girls. These young women, who must take their graduation examinations, haven't gone to school in a year and haven't received any guidance or education for these exams. Sajida, a 12th-grade student, told Al Jazeera, “I am in a very bad state right now; we haven’t studied a single book for it." "We are here to answer 140 questions without knowing anything,” she said concerning the exam held on Wednesday.
Access to universities has only been granted to women who have received a high school diploma after taking the examination. "We spent a whole year under tension and stress and haven't read a single page of our textbooks," said 18-year-old Najila from Kabul in an interview with the Tribune. "How can we possibly take an exam after a year and a half that the Taliban have kept school doors closed?" she added.
Students and feminist groups have demonstrated in favour of ending the prohibition on girls attending secondary schools. Government representatives have said that there aren't enough teachers or resources and that they won't reopen until an Islamic curriculum is created or a national policy on modest school apparel is established.
Girls have been banned from middle school and high school, are forced to wear head-to-toe clothing in public and have been restricted from employment of any sort in most cases. They have also been prohibited from going to parks, gyms, and funfairs.
Afghanistan's Taliban government has come under strong criticism for how it treats women and girls. The Taliban have refuted a claim made earlier this month by a team of UN experts that it could be considered a crime against humanity and should be investigated and prosecuted following international law.
Image Credits: GETTY
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