The Taliban’s latest move to ban the distribution of academic documents for girls follows their earlier decision to shut down schools and universities for female students. Many female students who completed the twelfth grade under the Taliban’s Ministry of Education promotion plan are also unable to obtain their completion certificates and three-year records.
Mahmooda Saqib graduated from Kabul University a year prior to the Taliban’s takeover of the country. However, despite successfully completing her studies, she has been unable to obtain her academic documents due to the shortage of diploma papers at the university.
“Every time the diploma sheets become available, it is a rarity,” she told Nimrokh. “I had visited the university numerous times before the Taliban came to power to obtain my academic documents. However, each time, I was informed that the diploma papers were out of stock and that I would have to wait.”
According to Saqib, despite multiple attempts after the Taliban takeover, she was still unable to obtain her diploma from the university. “I have visited the university several times since the fall of Kabul, but they informed me that diploma papers are not available yet.”
Mahmooda missed the chance to apply for a scholarship in Iran due to the unavailability of her academic documents. “I have a friend who offered to secure me a scholarship for a master’s degree in one of the universities in Iran, but I had to let go of the opportunity because I lacked the necessary documents,” she lamented.
The distribution of diplomas has been a long-standing issue as the papers are not printed in the country itself, presenting a challenge for graduates seeking their academic documents. However, with the Taliban’s rise to power, the situation for girls has worsened. Not only are they faced with the lack of papers, but the distribution process has also been banned for them.
Like many of her classmates at Kabul Education University, Rozma Omarkhel graduated three years ago but has not been able to obtain her diploma. With the Taliban’s takeover and the closure of universities for girls, it appears increasingly unlikely that she will ever be able to obtain her education documents.
In an interview with Nimrokh, Rozma Omarkhel shared her struggles with obtaining her educational documents. She revealed that during the republican regime, she was unable to obtain her diploma, and now with the Taliban in power and universities closed to girls, the situation seems even more bleak. “It seems impossible for me to get my educational documents,” she said desperately.
It has been three weeks since Rozma attempted to go to the university to obtain her academic documents, but she was denied access by the Taliban soldiers who prevented her from approaching the university gate.
“I was waiting for the university to resume administrative work,” she said. “However, when I heard that they were holding a second chance exam for male students, I decided to go to the university. But the Taliban men didn’t even allow me to approach the gate.”
Rozma recounted how one of the Taliban soldiers mocked her, saying, “Go home and learn to be a wife now. The Islamic Emirate has arrived, and soon it will collect all siyasars1 from universities and the streets.”
Acquiring academic documents from private universities has become even more arduous than from public ones. Private universities charge each student nearly 10,000 Afghanis (around $115) to process his/her documents, and it takes several months to prepare the academic documents. However, this process has become even more difficult since the Taliban gained power and prohibited girls’ education.
A year has passed since Farzana, a 23-year-old girl, completed her midwifery course at a private university and paid the institution 10,000 Afghanis to obtain her academic documents. However, she has not received them yet.
“I paid the university 10,000 Afghanis for my diploma and transcript,” she complained in an interview with Nimrokh, “but every time I go to the university to follow up, they tell me that the process is on hold and that they will inform me when it resumes.”
“During the republican regime, diplomas were printed in England for security and quality reasons, which caused a delay in the distribution process,” an administrative staff member at Kabul University, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Nimrokh. “However, with the Taliban’s takeover, it is uncertain yet where these sheets will be printed, and even if it has been determined, there is no information available. But the distribution of diplomas and transcripts for male students is currently ongoing.”
On the ban on distributing academic documents to female students, the source stated: “Following the closure of universities for girls, we have received orders from the Taliban’s Minister of Higher Education to halt the distribution of academic documents, including transcripts and certificates, to female students.”
The challenges are not limited to university students alone. With the arrival of the Taliban and their oppression of women, many high school girls have also been unable to receive their certificates and three-year records after graduating from the twelfth grade.
Mahgul Rajaei, a 19-year-old girl, was barred from attending school when the Taliban took over. However, the Ministry of Education of the Taliban promoted her to the 12th grade without letting her attend classes and she was compelled to graduate.
When asked about obtaining and verifying her certificate, she told Nimrokh, “I visited the director of the third educational district to get my certificate verified. Initially, he flatly refused to sign it. However, when I burst into tears, he signed it but mocked me by saying ‘your certificate will only gather dust on the shelf. Maybe one day it will come in handy, but don’t even think about pursuing further education.’”
Despite the fact that, after the Taliban’s closure of universities for girls, various universities around the world announced free scholarships to support female students, most female students need educational documents to receive these scholarships. However, the Taliban’s restrictions on education for girls extend beyond Afghanistan’s borders. The group has been denying them educational opportunities abroad by refusing to distribute necessary documents, effectively blocking their access to scholarships and study opportunities overseas.
Women who have spent years studying in Afghanistan and are now unable to obtain their educational documents are criticizing the performance of responsible international institutions. They argue that over the past 19 months, organizations that claim to support women’s rights and countries around the world have only issued a few statements condemning the Taliban’s cruel actions, but have taken no concrete action to help them. This lack of action by the international community and women’s rights organizations is seen as a form of oppression that is no less significant than the Taliban’s treatment of women.
1 “Siyasar (Dari), tor sára (Pashto) made up of siya/tor, which means black, and sar/sari which means head, in other words ‘black-headed’. These terms are used across Afghanistan to address any woman in public.”