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U.S. may resume Afghanistan's Fulbright program

The collapse of the former Afghanistan Republic in August 2021 caused Azura Jahish to suffer two losses.

The Taliban's new leader has fired him from his job as a civil engineer at the Ministry of Urban Development. Around the same time, he was informed that the US Fulbright scholarship, which was scheduled to begin in 2022, was cancelled.

Due to a "significant barrier", an email sent to Jahish by the Fulbright administrator states that "the selection process for the 2022-2023 academic year will not proceed." I did.

Jahish was one of 140 semi-finalists, some of whom were women who were hoping to start a graduate program at a US university in 2022.

Currently, the US State Department is Afghanistan's flagship education scholarship program for the upcoming year.

"We are working towards a safe resumption of the Fulbright Program for Afghan students. The situation on the ground has not changed, but we are the Afghan Fulbright Program. We are planning for the 2023-2024 school year, "a State Department spokesman told VOA.

"The cohort is considering semi-finalists from 2022 to 2023."

Semi-finalists are all applicants to be eligible for scholarships. Has already completed most of the qualifications and testing procedures, including the English requirements that must be passed.

"This is the best news," Jahish told VOA, adding that he chose Texas A&M University as his master's degree in water management.

Some applicants evacuated more than 124,000 people from Afghanistan last year


Many Afghans have also emigrated from their country in the last decade, fearing retaliation against the Taliban and loss of jobs and rights under new leaders.

One of the Fulbright semi-finalists who didn't want to be named because of security concerns said many of her cohorts had already left Afghanistan.

Semifinalists have created WhatsApp groups to stay in touch and exchange information.

"Some contacts in the WhatsApp group have changed their numbers and country codes," Jahish said, adding that most are still in Afghanistan.

The US Embassy in Kabul, which controlled the Fulbright Program, remains closed, and Afghans wishing to travel to the United States must submit a visa application in a third country.

Unlike students who receive scholarships from US academic institutions and have to pay visa fees, Fulbright applicants do not pay visas or tickets.

No new applications

Approximately 4,000 international students from dozens of countries receive Fulbright scholarships each year. Since its inception in 1946, more than 400,000 students and scholars from 160 countries have participated in this program.

The State Department has stated that it will not accept new applications from Afghanistan for the 2023-2024 cycle. It is also uncertain whether Afghans can apply for the 2024-2025 academic year.

From 2003 to 2021, more than 950 Afghans received Fulbright scholarships. This is mainly a two-year master's program.

The United States also spent more than $ 145 billion on other reconstruction and humanitarian and development projects in Afghanistan during the same period.

Last year, when the US-backed Afghanistan government collapsed, the US government stopped all development assistance to Afghanistan, including the Fulbright Program. However, the United States remains the country's largest humanitarian aid country, promising more than $ 750 million in humanitarian aid last year.

"The United States has a lasting commitment to the people of Afghanistan," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Tuesday with $ 55 million to fund Afghanistan's earthquake response. Announced.

"It is essential to build relationships between people, especially after the United States leaves Afghanistan. Such cultural, academic and human connections are more important than ever. "That's right," Mosin Amin, a former full-bright scholar in Afghanistan, told VOA.

Despite the serious disagreement between the Taliban and the U.S. government, and widespread accusations that the Taliban are targeting Afghanistan, which is part of the U.S. program in Afghanistan, Mosin is in Afghanistan. The Taliban scholars said they could still work in the country.

"I think some Fulbright scholars belong to the non-profit and private sector of Afghanistan, while others are held by the Taliban in a governmental position," Mosin said. He added that the Taliban must also respect the technology. Expertise United States-Educated Afghanistan bring to Afghanistan.