Schools Jostle for Space

Schools Jostle for Space Schools Jostle for Space

At one time the shortage of government schools was an issue relevant only to rural and disadvantaged regions in the country; but now there some areas in the capital facing the problem; in particular municipal District 22 in Tehran.

According to Tehran Municipality (TM), with approximately 10,000 hectares, District 22 was created decades ago to address the problems of the burgeoning population and also to accommodate displaced people living in central Tehran’s old and worn-out textures.

While the district population is increasing regularly, new schools have not been established to meet the education needs of students, the Persian language newspaper ‘Sharq’ reported.

Several existing schools were demolished after land value in the area shot up. More recently, the owner of Shahid Kharazzi School located in Sharif University Town in the district, decided to demolish the school and construct residential buildings in its place.

It is just one of the dozens of schools which have been demolished due to various reasons, including obstacles in constructing Hakim Highway and the greed of school building owners to earn more money through lucrative residential projects.

The question that arises is which organization is and should be held responsible to build schools for children residing in such districts? Some say this is the function of the Education Ministry, but education officials insist that the municipality is responsible.

  Judicial Orders

Esfandiyar Chaharband, general manager of the Tehran Province Education Office said the district education office has complained to the Judiciary regarding “the conversion of educational space into residential towers” and judicial orders have been issued for seven mass housing projects in the area.

According to Houshang Mirshafiei, head of the education office for districts 5 and 22, “Based on Article 18 of the relevant law passed by the Supreme Council of Education, for every 200 residential buildings in a district constructed by a mass builder one school must also be built. Only after the construction of the school, the TM should issue the completion certificate for builders.”

  Massive Breach of Law

Unfortunately in many cases, the TM has not paid attention to the law, he said.

“So far, we have identified 40 mass housing projects in District 22 which have not provided even one school for the 24,000 residential units they have constructed, while there should be at least 120 schools in the area as per the law.”

Families in the district are thus facing major problems in educating their children as they are forced to send them to schools in areas far away from the home that obviously also puts extra burden (transport costs) on the family purse.

At present, 170,000 people live in the district, of which 10% are students (approximately 17,000 students). But according to estimates, by 2018 the district population will increase to 600,000 (60,000 students), Mirshafiei said. At least 120 schools are needed to meet the demand of the student population in the district.

  Builders View

Builders maintain that they cannot construct schools since when they start a mass construction project, as per the municipal laws, only 30% should be utilized for the building area while the TM takes up the remaining 70% of the land for urban streets, gardens, mosques, schools, clinics and other needs.

Mohammad Tabrizi, a mass housing project contractor says, “If we plan to construct residential buildings in a 10,000 square meter plot, the TM takes away 7,000 sq. meters and we are allowed to build homes only on 3,000 sq m of the land. Construction of schools is thus not possible.”

District 22 in northwestern Tehran was created in 1972 and named Kan New City. According to its new Master Plan approved 16 years ago, from out of 6200ha, nearly 162 hectares are residential, 1365ha is earmarked for green spaces, 62ha for educational spaces, 168ha for higher education, 238ha for services sector, 327ha for sport facilities and 355ha for lakes.

Residential density has been classified into three categories: low density (100 units per hectare), medium density (135 units per hectare) and high density (200 units per hectare).