Entrance Exam to Afghan Universities Adopts Hi-Tech Security

Reza Rafat receives an award from Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani for achieving the top nationwide score on the Kankor national university exam.
Reza Rafat receives an award from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for achieving the top nationwide score on the Kankor national university exam.
USAID
Biometrics prevents fraudulent test taking
“In previous years, there was doubt and uncertainty over the authenticity of test results. This year ... I can have the honor of having the top marks without the shadow of a doubt.”

November 2017—Student participation in Afghanistan’s university entrance exam increased from 7,800 in 2001 to more than 169,000 in 2016, according to the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education. With the increase of students taking the national high-stakes Kankor exam, the test-taking process has become increasingly beleaguered by fraud, including leaked copies of exams and proxy exam taking.

While a significant number of both applicants and the general populace have lost their trust in the ministry and the Kankor’s credibility, new security procedures are working to restore the reliability of test results. The ministry, with technical and financial support from USAID’s University Support and Workforce Development Program, has taken bold steps to reform the Kankor examination process, including adding accountability, security and efficiency measures.

In October 2015, USAID provided the ministry with heavy-duty printers to produce randomized test question booklets and scanners to score the marked exams. In February 2017, USAID provided portable biometric kits, including laptops and printers, and trained ministry staff on their use. During registration for the exam, the equipment records each Kankor applicant’s photograph and fingerprints as proof of their identity, which is verified when they return to take the exam, ensuring that only those students who have registered for the exam can take it.

An unprecedented number of students, 169,529, registered and took the Kankor exam last year. Of the 147,000 who were admitted to higher education programs, 33 percent were female, with 60,629 students admitted to Afghan public universities, 31,629 to higher education institutes, and 55,266 to private universities.

A number of factors have contributed to the increased registration, including efforts by the Ministry of Education and donor organizations to improve curriculum and retain students through the secondary level. Since 2002, the drastic decrease in Taliban influence has increased youth access to education, particularly for girls, who had been denied education. And since 2004, the Afghan Constitution has provided for free education up to the Bachelor’s Degree level.

Reza Rafat, a participant in USAID’s Kankor preparation program, had the highest Kankor score in the country. The son of a sanitation worker, Rafat comes from a financially unstable background and does carpentry work to make ends meet. He credited his family’s encouragement as the main reason for his achievement and said that he will redouble his efforts to improve his education in order to serve the people of Afghanistan. He also expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Higher Education and USAID for ensuring that the Kankor process is fair and transparent.

“In previous years, there was doubt and uncertainty over the authenticity of test results. This year, I received the highest marks, and I am thankful to [the USAID program’s] biometric equipment. I can have the honor of having the top marks without the shadow of a doubt.”

USAID’s University Support and Workforce Development Program, which runs from 2013 to 2018, supports the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education and 11 public universities to strengthen management and curricula to meet the needs of the private and public job market.

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Last updated: November 01, 2017

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