Afghan female students not allowed to sit university entrance exam

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A letter from the ministry was addressed to the institutions in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, including Kabul, where the exams are to be held from the end of February. The letter said that those institutions that do not observe the rules will face legal action.

The Higher Education Ministry in December told universities not to admit female students “until further notice”. Days later, the administration suspended most of the NGO’s female workers from working. Most of the girls’ secondary schools were also closed by the authorities.

Restrictions on women’s work and education have drawn international condemnation. Western diplomats have shown that the Taliban will need to change course in its policy towards women to have a chance of formal international recognition and alleviate its economic isolation.

The country is in the midst of an economic crisis, partly due to sanctions affecting its banking sector and cuts in development funding, with aid agencies warning that tens of millions are in urgent need of help.

However, a World Bank report this week also said the Taliban administration, which has said it is focused on greater economic self-sufficiency, maintained strong revenue collection last year and exports rose.

(Reporting by Mohammad Yunus Yawar; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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