Teaching Nomad Children in Remote Regions

There are 5,700 nomadic schools with more than 170,000 students in 22 provinces.There are 5,700 nomadic schools with more than 170,000 students in 22 provinces.

Given the shortage of nomadic teachers, Iranian men eligible for conscription can seek exemption from military service by working as teachers in remote areas.

“When I turned 18, instead of serving the mandatory two years in the military I opted to teach in Miyaneh-Kouh, a village in eastern part of Khorramabad, Lorestan Province,” says Aziz Mohammadi Manesh who has taught nomad students for several years.

“There were three nomadic households with 11 family members living in the village at the time.  After completion of the two-year service, I realized I wanted to devote my entire life to this profession, teaching nomad children,” he told the Persian language newspaper ‘Iran’.

In 2001, he went to a village in the northern part of Sepiddasht in Lorestan. The village didn’t have gas, electricity or piped water.

“I have spent 17 years teaching children residing in hard-to-reach places in different parts of the country,” he said.

He moves to new places along with nomads during the seasonal migration period. “After completion of my mission in one place, I find a new place where teachers are needed. First I advise parents to send their children to a nomad school. Fortunately, the children aspire to learn.”

He has purchased a solar electric power system which he carries with him wherever he goes and “it’s very exciting for nomads to turn on lamps at nights in their tents or to watch video movies.”

So far he has lived with various nomadic tribes in different villages such as Sartang, Palangkouh, Chalraduh, Segordeh, polkoul, Shahbazan, Boland-Narges, Kouhrad and Sarkaneh, all located in Lorestan and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Provinces.

Iran Red Crescent Society (IRCS) aerial emergency teams have provided services to the people living in hard-to-reach places and Mohammadi Manesh has helped the teams in 16 missions since he knows the mountainous area and the routes very well.

Every season nomads look for the best places to stay for their families and their livestock, mostly sheep and goats. As a result, their children too never stay in the same place for long; so it is difficult to fit into regular schools for those leading a nomadic way of life.

Mohammadi Manesh is one of the hundreds of educators to have taken on the onerous responsibility of teaching nomadic students.

 Hazards at the Workplace

Teachers of nomadic children may face various hazards including working in the foothills where there is a risk of landslides especially in winter, long distances between their home and school, working in a harsh environment and bad weather conditions, lack of amenities including restrooms and toilets, health clinics, piped water, electricity, gas and heating and cooling systems. There also is the risk of attack by wild animals and reptiles, and finally being far away from their families can cause mental health problems.

According to the Education Ministry, there are 5,700 nomadic schools with more than 170,000 students in 22 provinces of which 130,000 are primary, 23,000 are elementary and 18,000 are high-school students. Also there are 13,550 nomadic teachers, among whom 10,330 are men.

Nomads constitute 2% of Iran’s population (about 1.2 million) of 80 million and play a crucial role in the economy and production sector. They own 24 million head of cattle (25% of the total), and produce more than 20% of the  protein needs.

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