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A vocational school is a post-secondary educational institution designed to provide vocational education required to perform the tasks of a specific job.
A vocational school is a post-secondary educational institution designed to provide vocational education required to perform the tasks of a specific job.

Refugees Facing Curbs in Vocational Schools

The Society to Support Refugee Kids and Women says that some Afghan students have been refused enrollment in popular majors such as accounting

Refugees Facing Curbs in Vocational Schools

Afghan residents in Iran are facing restrictions to enroll in high schools for several technical and vocational majors.
Media reports say that several vocational schools affiliated to the Technical and Vocational Training Organization of Iran have refused to enroll students for the upcoming academic year (begins September 23). Some others agree to register them after charging a higher tuition fee.
As per the education bylaw for refugees posted on the Interior Ministry’s online portal, they can sign up to study in 20-25 high school majors, but the Society to Support Refugee Kids and Women says that some Afghan students have been refused enrollment in popular majors such as accounting, which has a wide job market in the country, Khabaronline reported.  
The restrictions are purportedly part of the Education Ministry’s measure to “save job opportunities for Iranians”, according to the deputy education minister for international affairs.
“Iran provides Afghans with 90% of the services that it offers its own citizens,” said Shahin Noushabadi. “But we cannot limit the job market for our local residents for the sake of foreigners.”

  Education for All
The government has repeatedly said that education has been facilitated for all refugees, Afghans in particular, since they make up the bulk of migrants in Iran.
In May, the Cabinet passed a bill to amend the bylaw on Education Regulations for Foreign Nationals to facilitate the enrollment of refugees in Iranian schools. The move came after the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s in April 2015 instructed all schools to enroll Afghan children regardless of their legal status, underlining that no Afghan, including undocumented or illegal refugees, should be deprived of public education.
“Iran is the only country in the world that provides education for illegal refugees without identity cards, Noushabadi stressed.
According to him, nearly 85%-95% of refugee students have identity cards. These students must apply for the education-purposes-only cards that are issued by the Interior Ministry’s centers for registration and administrative affairs of refugees in the 31 provinces.
The cards have been added to the list of valid documents to be provided for school enrollment, and are legally binding on the Education Ministry.
Noushabadi said the restriction is not specific to Afghans and applies to refugees from other countries too. Refugees are allotted a 5%-20% quota to enroll in 20-25 majors among the 100 available in vocational schools of the country, he stressed.
“Decision making regarding refugees is hard and complex and is done within a specific process at the National Regulatory Commission which supervises the Permanent Committee on Refugees,” the official added.
Meanwhile, lawyer and expert on international law Mohammadreza Ziaei, said Afghans can file a lawsuit against the vocational schools that refuse to enroll students in the 25 majors mentioned in the education bylaw for foreign refugees.
“Refusing them the right to study in one of those majors is illegal, and they can sue because as soon as a foreigner enters a country illegally they are considered refugees and covered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,” he said.
The UNHCR contributions to Iran for supporting refugees has been meager compared with their high and rising living and education costs. Tehran has castigated the UN refugee agency for more than three decades for not doing its share in assisting the millions of Afghan refugees and at the same time failing to repatriate them to their homeland or any other country willing to take them.

  Large Refugee Population
There are 386,000 refugee students in Iranian schools, among whom 360,000 are of Afghan origin. The remaining 26,000 include Iraqis. The number increases by an average of 10% per year.
“Every year, we build new schools in cooperation with the UNHCR in areas where there is school shortage,” Noushabadi said.
So far, 15 schools have been constructed. Educating refugees costs the Iranian government a total of 800 billion rials ($23 million) annually. The UNHCR funds only 30-40 billion rials ($860,000-$1 million) of the amount.
Iran continues to host one of the largest and most protracted refugee populations in the world, despite the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of Afghan (and Iraqi) refugees to their countries of origin over the past decade.
Most Afghans fled to Iran either after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, or following the Afghan civil war in the 1990s and the US-led invasion in 2001. During these decades Iran was home to nearly four million Afghan refugees - the largest refugee population in the world.
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner George Okoth-Obbo, during a visit to Tehran in April, said there are 960,000 documented Afghan refugees in Iran, but the number of unregistered Afghans far exceeds that number: about 3 million.
A vocational school is a post-secondary educational institution designed to provide vocational education, or technical skills required to perform the tasks of a particular and specific job. Vocational schools are distinguished from four-year colleges by their focus on job-specific training to students who are typically bound for one of the skilled trades, rather than providing academic training for pursuing careers in a professional discipline.
According to the Labor Ministry, skilled foreign refugees who have valid certificates and work visas will be recruited provided that there are no qualified nationals to fill the position.

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