SWO Scheme for Vulnerable Students

SWO Scheme for Vulnerable StudentsSWO Scheme for Vulnerable Students

The State Welfare Organization will soon implement a plan that aims to provide social security to students of all ages in the current Iranian year that began in March.

“The scheme titled ‘Namad’ (literally symbol) will extend support to students who are or could likely be exposed to social harm,” Habibollah Masoudi Farid, social deputy at the SWO, told IRNA.

The plan was proposed and approved last year, and is now in the process of devising protocols, content, and guidelines.

Stressing the role of counseling and social work in redressing social issues concerning students, Farid said the project will bring together a number of competent organizations to identify students who are exposed to social harms such as violence or addiction.

“The necessary steps will then be taken on a case-by-case basis.”

Joining the SWO are the Education Ministry, Judiciary, Management and Planning Organization, and Barekat Foundation.

Barekat is an institution dedicated to creating entrepreneurs, building schools and infrastructural facilities in remote and poor regions and affiliated to the Setad (a special office for executing the decrees of Imam Khomeini in helping the underprivileged).

“The project will educate students at all levels in preventive measures, and include life skills, anger management, and information on drug abuse,” Farid said. “If the situation warrants, timely intervention by the Emergency Social Services or the Judiciary will be taken immediately.”

The scheme will first be implemented in five provinces including East Azarbaijan, and later be extended nationwide.

Five major social harms among the 12 identified were prioritized for scrutiny: addiction, divorce, high-risk districts, social corruption, and informal settlements.

The leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had censured the government’s performance in social services saying “we are lagging 20 years behind in terms of social services”.

Stressing the need to control social harm, in particular addiction, the Leader called on all executive bodies to investigate the root problems of social ills and address them.

 Need for Specialized Services

The SWO official underlined the need for specialized social services, specifically for the educational system given that social maladies are increasing.

“Although schemes such as Namad are a form of social service for students, the social circumstances today call for universities and social work groups to shift their approach from general social services to specialized ones, and specific to every part of the society such as schools, prisons, families,” the official said.

It has repeatedly been noted by various state officials that there is a lack of specialized human resources in psychology and social work to deal with existing problems.

The Education Ministry could train general psychologists in short-term courses in areas concerning children and young adults (adolescents), he said.

There are 13 million school students across the country. One of the most important areas to be addressed is the reported rise in suicides over the past 18 months among students of middle, high, and a few primary schools.

Khabaronline reported in May that over the past academic year, 18 students committed suicide within and outside of their education facilities.

In March, SWO Director Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpei said a 12,000-strong team of specialists, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists are operating under its auspices with the aim of reducing social ills and the ensuing costs it imposes on the society.

The main strategy, he said, in targeting social harm is to incorporate specialized teams in various fields and shifting the approach to social and family-oriented programs.