University entrance exam in Afghanistan: a significant decrease in participants

Some male students say economic problems and lack of motivation are reasons for non-participation.

The Kankoor (Afghan university entrance exam) process for universities and higher education institutions in 34 provinces of Afghanistan has concluded.

The total number of participants for this year’s Kankoor has not been announced yet. However, according to data from some provinces, there has been a significant decrease compared to previous years.

Herat, Afghanistan: According to local authorities, 3,000 students from Herat, one of the most populated provinces in Afghanistan after Kabul, participated in this year’s Kankoor exam. During the first year of the Taliban’s rule, around 7,000 students participated in the Kankoor exam, while before the Taliban rule, the number of participants was reported to be over 15,000, including female students.

Balkh, Afghanistan: In Balkh province, over 4,600 students participated in this year’s Kankoor exam, compared to more than 6,000 students last year. Before the Taliban rule, approximately 15,000 students participated in the Kankoor exam, including girls.

In other provinces, the number of participants has also decreased.

Exclusion of females from Kankoor exam: The Ministry of Higher Education, under Taliban control, sent a letter to institutions of higher education ordering the exclusion of females from university entry exams on January 21, 2023.

During an interview with National Radio & Television under Taliban rule, Modir Jan Kotwal, the spokesperson of the National Examinations Administration of the Taliban rule, stated that approximately 31,000 individuals from 16 provinces participated in this year’s entrance examinations.

According to Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) information, 150,000 students participated in the entrance exam during the first year of Taliban rule in 2022. In the second year of their rule, 2023, participants dropped to 100,000. Official figures show that the total number of applicants for the 2020 Kankor exam, the last held before the Taliban came to power, was 179,928, including approximately 80,000 girls.

But why has the number of candidates for the entrance exam decreased significantly this year compared to previous years?

Some young people say they did not participate in this exam due to economic problems and lack of motivation.

A young man who lives in Kabul city and graduated from high school last year spoke anonymously, saying, “There was no motivation to continue my studies.”

He added, “I don’t want to continue my studies. Of the 45 classmates who graduated, only two or three, whose families insisted, participated in Kankoor.”

Mirwais, a resident of Herat Province, said that he had to discontinue his studies due to financial problems at home and other issues. He explained, “There are financial problems at home and other problems. For these reasons, I did not want to participate.”

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