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Afghan girls’ absence from matriculation results after 20 years sparks outrage

Written by Tabasum Nasiry

The results of the 1402 nationwide matriculation exam were declared without any participation from girls. This is the first instance in two decades where the exam results lack female candidates, perceived as an unfair and inhumane denial by girls.

The concerning fact of banning girls from participating in the national matriculation exam (Kankor) not only affects the number of girls denied this exclusive educational opportunity but also sends a troubling message to society. Over the past two decades, each national Kankor exam had not only included a girl’s name, but girls had consistently been at the top. However, this time, the results page lacks girls’ presence.

Asma Rabani, a 17-year-old girl who has completed her studies, lost her legitimate right to take the entrance exam. She expressed dismay, saying the exam results without girls’ participation indicate an “obvious disaster” in Afghanistan. Girls remain confined to their homes, deprived of all their “human and individual” rights.

Regretfully, she added, “Unfortunately, we have remained silent, and if we raised our voice, we were suppressed.” Asma emphasized that society will become ignorant and unaware by forcefully excluding women from educational realms.

Abdulbaqi Haqani, the head of the National Examinations Authority, announced the 1402 nationwide Kankor exam results on Monday in Kabul without mentioning any girls’ names. He emphasized that over 44,000 individuals have accessed higher education.

In past years, girls actively participated and excelled in the entrance exam. However, suddenly, they were excluded from the university entrance exam. Girls without participating in the entrance exam cannot enter universities, and according to them, the ban on university entrance exams means complete exclusion of girls from educational spheres.

Zarina, 19 years old from Herat province, expressed her disappointment that her biggest wish was to participate in the university entrance exam, and she was saddened by the fact that she and other girls could not participate.

Last year, girls could not secure a spot among the top ten in the entrance exam, while in the year 1400, a girl from Kabul and in 1399, a girl from Ghazni province, held the first rank in the university entrance exam.

Meanwhile, for over two years, girls have been deprived of attending schools, and the world has warned about the catastrophe of illiteracy and ignorance among Afghan women and girls in successive years.

While the university entrance exam was followed with great enthusiasm in previous years, if girls are absent from this process, there is less enthusiasm surrounding it.