Teaching Nomad Children Onerous Task

Teaching Nomad Children Onerous TaskTeaching Nomad Children Onerous Task

Every day, Nazarali Ahmadi Kakavandi, a dedicated teacher, travels a long distance of 450 km between Kermanshah and Dehloran, a county in Ilam Province to meet his six nomadic students from the Zanganeh tribe. All his students are members of a family and he is a good role model, and indeed a friend.

He is just one of the hundreds of educators who has taken the onerous responsibility of teaching nomadic students, IRNA reported.  

Every season nomads look for the best places to stay for their families and their sheep and goats. As a result, their children, too, never stay in the same place for long; so it is difficult to fit into regular schools for those leading a nomadic way of life.

The education ministry is supporting the establishment of alternative schools – schools with usually one classroom for children of different age groups.

At present, there are 5700 nomadic schools with more than 170,000 students across 22 provinces in the country of which 130,000 are primary, 23,000 are elementary and 18,000 are high-school students. Also there are 13,550 nomadic teachers, among whom 10,330 are men, said Abdol Rasoul Shakibafar, director general of less developed regions and tribal affairs at the education ministry.

 Occupational Hazards

Teachers of nomadic children face various hazards including working in mountain foothills where there is a risk of landslides especially in winter, long distances between their home and school, working in a harsh environment and bad weather conditions, lack of amenities including restrooms and toilets, health clinics, piped water, electricity, gas and heating and cooling systems. The risk of attack by wild animals and reptiles also exists, and finally being far away from their families can cause mental health problems.

The education ministry is planning new benefits for tribal teachers to encourage them to stay and work in deprived areas, including paying transportation and migration costs, he said, adding that “given the shortage of nomadic teachers, in the new school year (starts Sept. 23) some students of Farhangian Iranian University of Teachers Education, will be employed in the areas as nomadic educators.”

 Equal Access

The ministry aims to extend equal access to education to underserved students, which is one of the most important issue in the national education reform document, he added.

The focus is also on girls’ education and raising awareness on its importance; nomadic boys and girls have equal opportunities in public education, he said.

Nearly 60 years ago, Mohammad Bahmanbeigi (1919–2010), father of tribal education in Iran and the first nomadic teacher in the country, who was a graduate of the Tehran University’s Law School, directed the tribal education program for the first time.

And 46 years ago (1969), the Administration of Tribal Education was established with Bahmanbeigi as its head.

Nomadic people constitute 2% of the population (about 1.2 million) and play a crucial role in the country’s economy and production sector. Nomadic tribes own 24 million head of cattle (25% of the total), and produce more than 20% of the country’s protein needs.