Taliban Policies Risk De Facto University Ban for Afghan Women

All Afghan women may soon be banned from university degrees under Taliban rule. The Taliban’s ban on education for girls in high school will soon become a de facto ban on all university degrees for women as well, a Taliban spokesperson said. 

Girls will not have the qualifications or documents needed to enroll in higher education because they have been banned from school for nearly a year. 

“Automatically if we do not have high school graduates, we won’t have new female university students anymore,” said Maulawi Ahmed Taqi, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s ministry of higher education.

Taqi said that he hoped the ministry of education would soon come up with a new policy and reopen schools for girls. 

“We have realized that it is important, and the ban on girls’ education in temporary,” he said. 

Whether the ban is, in fact, temporary remains to be seen, as there has been no movement to actually stop the ban on women and girls’ education. 

Even if practical barriers for women to enroll in higher education are removed, there may soon be limits to which degrees women can study. The proposed degrees for women are only healthcare or education. 

In Afghanistan, students need to take a national university entrance exam called the kankor. It is required to enroll in all schools, public or private. 

Last year, the Taliban automatically “graduated” female senior students in high school, making them eligible for the exam. But the Taliban has never scheduled another kankor since taking over the country, so there has never been one to register for. 

Women are already at a massive disadvantage competing against men in education. Men have been allowed to finish school, and women have not. 

The Afghan school year will end in the final weeks of 2022, and another class of boys will take their final 12th grade exams. 

It is not clear whether the Taliban will once again issue pretty much meaningless “high school graduation certificates” to girls who should be finishing with their male classmates. Afghan law bars them from taking the entrance exam without one. Even if girls are allowed to take part, university officials who handle admissions say they are worried about how far girls will be falling behind, after nearly a year barred from education.

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