New School for Afghan Children in S. Tehran

New School for Afghan Children in S. Tehran New School for Afghan Children in S. Tehran

A new school for Afghan refugee children has opened in Shourabad, Rey County in south Tehran,  and 700 kids have enrolled so far.

The school was built by an Iranian non-government association Hami (literally, supportive) which is involved in helping refugee children, in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Persian language weekly ‘Tejarat-e-Farda’ a sister publication of Financial Tribune  reported.

“The new admissions barely constitute 2% of the total number of out-of-school refugee children and many Afghan kids are still deprived of their right to basic education,” said Tahereh Pazhuhesh, a member of the association.

It is more than one month since the school year began (September 23) but still a large number of Afghan children are out of school due to several reasons, she said.

Firstly, many of the children do not have birth certificates and thus there is ambiguity about their age. In the letters of recommendation issued by the Ministry of Interior, their age is not mentioned correctly and therefore many schools refuse to register the children on the pretext of not having complete information, she said.

Secondly, a fee of $60 is charged for enrollment and as school uniforms and books are costly, many poor Afghan parents refuse to send their children to school.  

She also said a large number of Afghan children and adolescents are employed which interferes with their school attendance. “To overcome this problem, some social activists have opened education centers in Shush and Naser Khosrow neighborhoods in Tehran, to provide academic sessions for limited hours in a day.”

Given the hurdles for registration of refugee children in regular schools, establishment of special schools by NGOs is of great help, Pazhuhesh noted.

However, efforts should be made to change the culture of Iranian school management and prepare them to accept all children irrespective of their nationalities.

 Academic Coexistence

It should be recalled that the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei recently instructed schools to provide quality and safe education to all children, even those without legal status.

The Interior Ministry has given a five-day extension to 7-18 year-old Afghan students to get letters of recommendation for admission in Iranian schools, Pazhuhesh said.

But education experts say bringing Afghan refugee children to the same classrooms with Iranian students’ needs allocation of additional funds and training of teachers and students in “academic coexistence.”

Iran has hosted one of the world’s largest and most protracted refugee populations, mostly from Afghanistan. While millions have been repatriated, estimates show there are still one million registered Afghans residing in the country.  Although many Afghan children are still deprived of education, currently, 360,000 foreign students are legally registered in schools across the country, among whom 330,000 are Afghans.