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Afghanistan's top high school graduate is worried about her future

Salgy Baran scored the highest in Afghanistan at her university entrance exams, but she doesn't know what next.

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Afghanistan's top high school graduate is worried about her future

The 18-year old wants to stay in Afghanistan and become a doctor. But, as many Afghans have experienced, their plans were thwarted when the Taliban invaded Kabul's capital earlier this month. This was the culmination of their incredible takeover of the country.

Taliban leaders claim that women and girls can attend school and work according to Islamic law. They don't give specifics, even though other members of the militant group have mocked the idea of coed classrooms or hinted at more extreme measures.

Baran said that while he is not currently afraid, he was concerned about his future. He spoke to The Associated Press via video from Kabul. "Will they let me get an education?"

The Taliban say the mass evacuation of foreigners and Afghans fearful of their rule must end on Aug. 31, the date the U.S. set for withdrawing its last troops after 20 years of war. They accuse Western countries of trying to lure away engineers, doctors, and other professionals who will be required to rebuild war-ravaged Afghanistan.

They should be hopeful that Baran will stay if this is the case.

Growing up in rural Afghanistan in a middle-class household, she was able to access medical care despite the decades of international aid. She said that her father, a diabetic, died when she was seven years old after he gave him too much insulin.

She was inspired to become a doctor who does not make mistakes.

In 2015, the family moved to Kabul where women are less restricted. Her family pooled resources to help her study. She was described as a quiet child who loved math and would read for hours.

The exams, Afghanistan's version SAT, were taken before the takeover. According to the National Examination Authority, she scored the highest among the 174,000 girls and boys in Afghanistan. This earned her a place at Kabul University of Medical Sciences (the country's best school of medicine).

A whole generation of Afghan women has benefited from the Western-backed order that was established following the 2001 U.S. invasion. The Taliban were driven from power by the U.S.

Women were not allowed to work or attend school when the militants ruled the country. Only male relatives were allowed to accompany them outside, and even then they could not go outside without the full-covering burqa.

Since 2001, progress has been slow and mostly limited to urban areas. According to the U.N. Children's Agency, 3.7 million Afghan children are not in school. 60% of these children are girls and 17% of girls are forced into marriage by their 15th birthday.

On the eve the Taliban tookover, however, girls were still attending school in Kabul, among other cities. Women could also be found in government, parliament and business. Many fear the Taliban will roll back the clock.

Abdul Baqi Haqqani was a Taliban official responsible for higher education. He said that women would be able to continue their education in "proper facilities." Without going into detail. Mohammad Khalid (a Taliban official) expressed disapproval at the idea that boys and girls could be studying in the same classroom.

Although Sharia (Islamic law) is interpreted differently in different parts of the Muslim world, most countries allow women to work and study freely. Talibans could request a Muslim headcarf or separate schools for girls and boys.

However, no one knows the truth -- at least not yet.

Baran and her family don't have any immediate plans to join Afghan exodus, but they worry about the future.

She said, "I had goals under previous governments, I had planned everything for many years." "But under this government I can't speak for anyone. Even tomorrow is uncertain."

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