MPO Aware of Low Education Budget, Plight of Schools

MPO Aware of Low Education  Budget, Plight of Schools MPO Aware of Low Education  Budget, Plight of Schools

Head of the Management and Planning Organization (MPO) Mohammad Baqer Nobakht says he is aware that the education budget is grossly inadequate and the plight of schools in remote areas leaves a lot to be desired.

“But at present, meeting our financial commitments to pensioners and teachers as well as raising teachers’ salaries are major issues on the MPO agenda,” he said at a recent conference  on ‘Supporters of Educational Justice’ at Tehran University, held in collaboration with NGOs working to promote children’s education.

“Social experts say that children’s educational deprivation is an undeniable fact in our society and one of the biggest national problems; however authorities have neglected the issue,” he said, the Persian language government-affiliated newspaper ‘Iran’ reported

“We still have no reliable information about the exact number of children deprived of their basic right to education,” the close aide to President Hassan Rouhani said.

With this in mind, many social scientists participated in this largest gathering of educationists to look closely at the problems and find solutions, Nobakht said.

Organizers of the conference said “they are determined to move thousands of children from the streets to schools” and that they want to remind the authorities that there are students still studying in “schools without walls and roofs, and in some cases, not even a bench to sit on.”

“Even if there is one such school it is a matter of great shame for me,” the MPO chief said. “I am mortified to hear that some students have to study under trying circumstances.”

In January, Nobakht had announced an increase in the Ministry of Education’s budget from $5.58 billion in the previous year to $6.67 billion in 2015.

Government funding on education has doubled from the years 2013 to 2015; also funding allocated to universities in deprived areas has increased from $104 million to $205 million during the same period. “However, I do realize that the budget is not adequate and the plight of some schools is unacceptable.”

“Every day we receive calls from ministers asking for more money. The minister of health talks about problems in his sector, the minister of road and urban development points to the highways that can endanger people’s lives and the minister of science and higher education complains about lack of funds for universities,” he pointed out.

“But our budget is limited and we are trying to allocate it in the best possible way.”

 ‘Luxury’ Item!

Meisam Hashemkhani, the conference secretary said following the economic recession in 2011, many families refused to pay for their children’s education putting it in the category of “luxury” expenses.

He said 70% of parents in Sistan-Baluchestan Province spend less than 0.5% of their expenses a month on their children’s education.

Hashemkhani said every year the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development publishes 180 indexes on different aspects related to children of the OECD member states, while “we don’t even have proper information about the number of out-of-school children.”

Mohammad Bahtaei, deputy minister of education, said in the next five-year economic development plan, (2016-2021) more funds will be allocated to schools, particularly in the poor and deprived areas. “So the problem of education deprivation will be reduced.”

According to official statistics, last year nearly 170,000 students were deprived of primary education, mostly because parents couldn’t afford the expenses. Unofficial figures indicate there are more than one million children excluded from formal school education.