At the Education Development Center in Bamiyan center, students were busy taking the entrance exam for the state university. I was there waiting for someone I knew when my eye fell on an old man with a worn and pale turban, wearing a short dress jacket and the kind of Russian boots still worn by men who live in villages. He was sitting in a corner, his legs in the sunshine.

The old man and his daughter had come from one of the outlying districts of Bamiyan where girls are not allowed to go to high school. Because of the restrictions on girls, it is usually only boys who come to the center for the entrance exam. His daughter was taking the exam without having had any special classes to prepare for it. When he looked and saw his daughter taking the exam, he was happy and there was a smile on his face.

The old man believed that girls should work in Afghan society just like men. He spoke to the man from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission who was supervising the exam, and told him that he wanted his daughter to be like Dr. Sima Samar. She is a human rights advocate who serves her community more than any man. 

The daughter, after finishing her exam, came to her father’s side. Her father kissed her. Before he could ask her, she said, “Yes, it was easy. I solved all the questions.”

“Well done, my daughter,” he said and they went out together hand in hand. 

When the Educational Development Association announced the results of the entrance exams, the almond-eyed girl received 350 out of 350. She told her father the truth: she had solved all questions.

By Arezu

Photo: Norway MFA/ Kilian Munch