Hundreds of Afghan girls completed entrance examinations for a Turkish foundation in Kabul that administers some of the country’s most prestigious schools on Friday, despite the Taliban’s refusal to let the 13-year-olds return to class.
According to Reza Parsa, a school official, 3,500 children took the highly competitive tests for the Afghan-Turk school system, with girls accounting for over 40 percent of the candidates.
Despite the Taliban government’s delay in allowing girls over grade 7 to return to school after a restriction that was imposed when the movement seized power in August, the children appeared for the tests hoping the Taliban would lift the restriction.
‘We want all girls to have access to education. This is our president’s and government’s as well as Afghans’ wish,’ Changez Idmir, the Educational Councillor at the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, stated in a press conference about the entrance exams.
Faced with rising international pressure, the Taliban have announced that older women will be allowed to return to school if preparations have been established to ensure that they can do so in accordance with what the movement considers legitimate Islamic standards.
Afghan-Turk schools are recognised as some of Afghanistan’s best and admission to them is extremely demanding
The Taliban say that they are still working on a national system, although older girls have resumed lessons in several parts of the country.
Ehsan Khateb, a Taliban-led education ministry official, was also present at the ceremony and expressed gratitude to the Turkish government.
According to Salleh Saghar, the chairman of the Turkish educational organisation, Afghan-Turk schools have had to adjust their curriculum and closing of their music, theatre and dance departments at the behest of Taliban officials.