Kabul, Oct 13 (EFE).- Girls in Kabul on Thursday sat for the university entrance test for the first time under the interim Taliban government – after it was held in the rest of the country -, although the Islamists have banned several careers for them and put an end to secondary education for females.
The exams have been marked by the suicide bombing of an educational center where preparations were on for the entrance exams, known as Kankor, in an area of the discriminated Shia Hazara minority in Kabul two weeks ago.
Around 53 people were killed and 110 wounded in the attack, most of them girls and young women.
Suhaila Hesar, 17, was still recovering from the serious injuries she sustained in the suicide bombing, but was determined to go to college and study political science.
“Despite an operation on the head for shrapnel, I have continued to prepare for the exam and I have not allowed myself to rest, there was not much time to prepare. I studied hard,” she told EFE days before the exam.
Masooma Ghafari, 19, also wounded in the attack, showed a similar determination.
“I have to study and endure the pain by taking several medicines, I want to qualify for Engineering,” she told EFE, while also expressing the grief of losing many of her fellow students in the suicide attack.
“It is really hard losing my friends, whenever I remember them, I cry for the dreams they had for their careers,” she said. “I am not giving up, I am stronger than before, and I have to achieve and convert their dreams and wishes into the reality.”
The classroom for the preparatory exam, attended by hundreds of students, was divided into two, segregated by sex, with separate doors for men and women.
The students first heard a shooting, but did not give bother much until they realized the attacker was inside the center and had just killed two guards.
“The students started screaming and running, and suddenly the gunman walked into the class through the girls’ door (…) and he blew himself up among the students,” an eyewitness told EFE.
The room of Nargis Mohammadi, one of the students killed in the attack, was kept decorated by her family with her school certificates, books and photographs.
“She was studying very hard, she wanted to be a professor and study at the Kabul Medical University. I don’t remember her going to family parties or gatherings, she focused only on her studies,” her father Sakhi Dad Mohammadi Nargis Mohammadi told EFE.
The Kankor exam – having some 160 questions with a maximum 360 points – was held in Kabul on Thursday, two weeks after it was conducted in the rest of the Afghan provinces.
Arzo, a student from the eastern province of Laghman, told EFE that the Taliban has limited the options for girls while choosing a career.
“I couldn’t choose my preferred journalism college, it had been removed from the list of universities and only the faculty of education was listed,” she told EFE, disappointed at having to forego her dream of becoming an investigative journalist after 12 years of study.
A member of the Afghan National Examination Authority (NEA), who asked not to be named, told EFE that several faculties have decided to offer the full range of courses only to men and restrict it for women.
“Some faculties don’t see a scope for female students in the future, therefore, the options have been removed,” he said.
However, the Taliban claimed they have not imposed restrictions on the choice of courses for students.
“There was no restriction from the Ministry of Higher Education, but maybe some universities have told girls not to choose certain faculties,” Ministry of Higher Education spokesperson Ahmad Taqi said at a press conference last week.