NGOs to Build Schools for Street Children

NGOs to Build Schools for Street ChildrenNGOs to Build Schools for Street Children

In the next academic year (starts September 23, 2016), four new schools will be constructed for street children in Tehran municipal districts 12 and 18, said Esfandiar Chaharband, head of the Tehran Province Education Department.

Several NGOs will jointly fund the construction of school buildings and the department will provide all the educational requirements, including books and stationary. “We will also pay the salaries of teachers and other staff,” he said, quoted by ANA (Islamic Azad University News Agency).

“Our objective is to provide free primary education to all street children. If we ignore the issue now, we will have to pay a heavy price in the future,” he said, adding that “the goal won’t be possible without the help of NGOs.”

Pointing to the current situation of Tehran schools, Chaharband said, 1.08 million students study in more than 4,200 schools in the province, of which 2,700 are state schools and 1,500 are private.”

 Private School

Last year, the first private school for street children named ‘Sobh-e-Ruyesh’ was established by an NGO ‘Tarannome Sobh-e-Sepid’ in the deprived Darvazeh Ghar neighborhood in Tehran’s district 12, and 165 street children were enrolled. Many did not even have birth certificates or were foreign nationals, mostly Afghans; however they were all registered on the school roster.  

Currently, the school operates in two shifts: 8 am to 12 noon and 12 noon to 4 pm. There are flexible programs for children who cannot spend four hours a day in the school as some of them are working.

The school principal, Mohammad Hassan Davoodi Shams says that the parents of street children prefer their children to work instead of sending them to school. The children also prefer the “freedom of the streets” as they are accustomed to doing what they want. This makes teaching all the more difficult.

In order to keep street children in the education system, schools should be made attractive places to elicit their attention through various methods. “For example, our classroom layout is u-shaped, a method to keep students focused, and it is different from the typical classroom layout. Teachers also shouldn’t be strict with children.”

Dr Marveh Vameghi, a psychiatrist and a professor at the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, says so far, three studies have been conducted on street children.

 Mostly Afghans

Based on the studies, 25% of street children are foreign nationals, mostly Afghans. Nearly 20% have a family member in prison and most of them work for more than six hours a day. The fathers of 91% of street kids are illiterate or have not completed their primary education and 23% of them are unemployed. Most of them come from families who have more than five members and the mothers of 70% of the children are not economically active, she says.

Zahra Rahimi, a member of the Society of Students Against Poverty (Imam Ali Relief Society) says, “If the children work in small towns like Rudehen, Pakdasht and Varamin they have to be engaged in hard work in industrial factories; so they prefer Tehran where they are engaged in street vending.

The average daily income of street children is less than the equivalent of $14. “So far, six children provided with educational and financial assistance by the society have successfully completed their higher education, and they are now contributing as social workers to help other street children.”

The Society of Students Against Poverty is the first student NGO in Iran founded in 1999. Its office was established at Sharif University in 2000. NGOs play a significant role in improving the social status of women and children in the society.