A year after banning most teenage girls from attending school, the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan is now imposing sweeping restrictions on which courses women can enrol in public universities.
The militant group has said the correct “Islamic environment” needs to be created for older girls to be allowed back into schools. However, more than a year after they returned to power this still has not happened in most provinces, with reports suggesting hardliners in the group remain opposed to it, the BBC reported.
At Nangarhar University, girls are now given the right to choose from only seven of 13 faculties. Women are not permitted to take subjects like journalism, agriculture, veterinary medicine, engineering or economics. The choice for female students can vary from university to university, depending on which part of the country one is in.
Women are allowed to take medicine and nursing in all provinces, as well as teacher training and Islamic studies. But veterinary science, engineering, economics and agriculture appear off-limits to women nationwide, while opportunities to study journalism are minimal, the BBC reported.
Officials expect 100,000 students (including 30,000 women) to take university entrance exams in Afghanistan this year. Male and female students have been taking the exams separately – in line with Taliban rules on segregating students by gender – for example, boys in the morning, girls in the afternoon or by using screens in exam halls. In some provinces where the candidate numbers were high, entrance exams were held over two or three days.
Activists say the number of female students applying for university will fall dramatically in the coming years unless the Taliban reopen secondary schools to girls from grades 6 to 12. In Laghman province last year, nearly 1,200 girls took the test; this year, the number had fallen to just 182 girls.