The National Examination Authority (NEXA) has announced that Kankor, the university entry exam, will be held by the end of this month. The Corona Emergency Committee approved the plan on Sunday, July 05. Officials at the NEXA say that they are prepared to enroll more than 200,000 students this year for entry exam but as the country has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic an estimated 180,000 students might take part in Kankor, according to officials.
The Kankor exam was delayed for the country was hit by the outbreak of coronavirus, Dost Mohammad Faizi, spokesperson for NEXA, told Kabul Now. “The distribution process of exam IDs will begin in the coming days in 17 provinces. On July 16, 17, and 18, students would complete their biometric and enrollment process,” says Mr. Faizi.
According to him, the exam in 17 provinces would be taken on July 19, 20, and 21.
The abrupt announcement by the NEXA has caught many students unprepared, with some of them show determination to take the exam while others are confused and worry about shortage of time for exam preparation.
Beheshti and Noreen, who are the 12-grade students of Afghan-Turk High School in Kabul, are preparing for Kankor exam. “We take two Kankor tests per week using Google forms and aside with it we use Zoom Apps to get our studies done on daily basis. Although one month is quite short but we are hopeful and put efforts to take Kankor,” they said.
Yahya Arez, a high school graduate, expressed concerns on Kankor exam. “Until two days ago, I had no idea on whether the exam would be taken this year or not. The announcement brought hope for me but at the same time it is stressing as one or two months are really short times for us to get through all books and get well-prepared.”
Mohammad and Sami, students of Asef Mayel High School, believe that the announcement of Kankor exam is stressing and they are worried for they are less prepared to take the exam. “Due to outbreak of coronavirus and extending duration of lockdown in the city, preparation classes for Kankor were closed and I had neither laptop nor internet to follow up the courses online,” says Mohammad.
Following the outbreak of coronavirus, the Afghan government announced that schools and universities would remain shut until next announcement. After almost a month and half, some private schools and universities took the initiative to launch online classes but the plan did not work well as most students were not able to afford the required internet connection, particularly those living in far-reaching areas of the country. With nearly three months passing, the ministries of education and higher education appear to have no plan to tackle the challenges.
Fatima Najimyar, who teaches chemistry at Afghan-Turk, is a- fifth-year medical student at Kabul Medical College University. She says all 10 courses, which she has to attend, are being taught online. “The course packages are sent to us in PDF and most of our professors send us voice messages to explain the lessons. Many of the students including me are lost,” she says.
Mohammad Aref Fahim, a science teacher at Pegah School in Kabul, told Kabul Now that he uses Google Classroom and Telegram applications to prepare his students for Kankor exam. “The system we use is satisfying for many students and those who have internet connection problems come to school to receive study packages from the administration.”
According to NEXA, the process of Kankor exam is the same as the previous years, and to ensure its transparency, the materials would be transferred to remote provinces by air. Whether the Ministry of Defense will provide us flights remains unknown. Delay in flights will put back the schedule of Kankor exam in Kabul, says Abdul Qadir Khamoush, head of NEXA.
The Kankor was held in early winter season three years ago. Upon a request by the Ministry of Higher Education, the Afghan government changed the timing of Kankor from early winter to late winter season. The schedule, however, was disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19.
Sahel Andishwar, spokesman for the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 Prevention, three weeks ago, said that the plan to hold the Kankor exam was submitted to the Ministry of Public Health for approval. Following the approval by the Ministry, it was approved by the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 Prevention on Sunday, July 05.
Akmal Samsor, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that the MoPH is concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus during the exam. “We are not entirely sure of holding the entrance exam and reopening the educational centers. A gathering of more than ten people is likely to increase the outbreak of the coronavirus.”
NEXA, however, says that observing social distance will not only be implemented on the exam day but also during the process of biometrics and enrollment of students. “We send the exam IDs to schools so that students can receive them from their schools.”
According to him, students are required to follow health instructions during the exam period and be sure of wearing masks and gloves. “The continuous usage of biometric technology increases the risk of outbreaking coronavirus. It should be easy to wash your hands with soap and hand sanitizers.”
Some teachers and students, however, express concerns over outbreak of Covid-19 during the period of Kankor exam. If the Kankor exam would be taken in an open environment there would be security challenges and if it would be taken in classrooms the outbreak of coronavirus would pose a serious health threat to lives of students and teachers, they say.
NEXA predicts that as the pandemic has hit the country this year the number of candidates for different fields in universities would be less as compared to previous years. Education authorities assure that every candidate would have a fair chance to pass the exam.
Mr. Faizi says that this efforts are underway to encourage more female candidates to take Kankor exam. Mr. Khamoush, however, stresses that this year female candidates have more chance to enter universities. Last year girls made 35 percent of candidates but this year there is a five to ten percent chance of increase in the ratio and as many as 13,000 girls would have the chance to enter higher education centers.
In 2019, 174,817 students took entrance exam, out of which 154,647 were enrolled in higher and semi-higher educational institutions. 55,437 were girls (35 percent) and 99,210 candidates were boys (64 percent).
Sakina Amiri has contribute to this report