‘I Wish My Teacher Knew’

‘I Wish My Teacher Knew’‘I Wish My Teacher Knew’

A 41-year old Iranian teacher, Ramin Rigi, at Shahid Shahraki primary school, Zahak County in Sistan- Baluchistan Province, provides breakfast everyday to all his school students.

The county, one of the most deprived areas, is situated close to the Afghan border. Most children living there suffer from chronic undernourishment, Farda News reported.

“Several years ago I asked my students to write a brief on ‘I Wish My Teacher Knew’. I was deeply saddened reading one of the statements which said, ‘I wish my teacher knew we come hungry to the classroom.’”

Overcoming his depression, he decided to do something to meet the children’s basic needs. “I think good teachers should care for their students like they’re their own kids,” he opines.

“Being a teacher is more than just teaching children academics. It is to help them be prepared for life.”

He started to buy bread and cheese for all his 80 students every day, as he wanted to make sure no child in the school goes hungry. “Girl students are more sensitive and I have seen several times that at each meal they set aside some of their food to take home to their younger siblings.”

Hungry students are not able to focus on their schoolwork or interact in a positive way with their teachers and classmates. Nor can they participate in physical activities on empty stomachs.

He hoped the authorities would pay more attention to students in disadvantaged areas, some of whom are very talented but lack the opportunities to come up in life due to their poverty.

 Malnutrition in Disadvantaged Areas

While reduction of malnutrition in urban areas has seen a remarkable improvement in recent years, rural and deprived areas have not achieved the same progress.

According to official figures, in Sistan-Baluchestan, 21% of children face the risk of not growing to their full height potential because of malnutrition. Hormuzgan Province has a rate of underweight children (21%) triple that of the national average rate of less than 7%.  

Earlier, the United Nations had placed Iran among countries with a high prevalence rate of malnutrition among children.

In recent years, however, a scheme to eliminate malnourishment was launched across the country, but it covers only 85,000 children; later UN reports suggested an improvement after the scheme took off. At present, Iran is among the countries with moderate prevalence of malnutrition.

According to Alireza Nakhaei, director general of the provincial Education Office, in the previous school year that ended in June, about 27 million packets of milk were distributed in Sistan-Baluchistan schools for 562,000 students, which means each student received only 45 sachets of milk during the 9-month school period. The figure was 12 sachets per student in 2014, 2013 and 2012.