Afghan girls will be allowed to take their high school graduation exams this week, an official and documents from the Taliban government indicate — even though they have been banned from classrooms since the former insurgents took over the country last year.
According to two documents from the Taliban 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.
Ehsanullah Kitab, head of the Kabul education department, says the exams would take place on Wednesday. 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, says the exams would last from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A second document, signed by Habibullah Agha, the education minister who took office in September, says 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,” says 18-year-old Najela from Kabul, giving only her first name for fear of reprisals. She would now be in twelfth 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.”