Nationwide Social Harm Prevention Program for Schools

Nationwide Social Harm  Prevention Program for SchoolsNationwide Social Harm  Prevention Program for Schools

The national document to tackle social harms among students developed two years ago for the first time in the country, was under a trial run in six provinces. 

Since the beginning of the school year in September 2016, the program was tested in schools in Fars, Kermanshah, Sistan-Baluchestan, East Azarbaijan, Alborz, and Khorasan Razavi provinces.

Six schools from two counties in each province were selected for the pilot run. A total of 72 schools with 18,000 students (both girls and boys at different levels of primary, elementary and high school) were covered. 

“The plan will be extended nationwide from the beginning of the next school year in September 2017,” said Nasser Mansour Kiaee, director general of Social Harms Prevention Office at the Education Ministry. 

The national document was a joint effort by nine government authorities namely the judiciary, ministries of interior, health and cooperatives, Law Enforcement Forces, Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, State Welfare Organization (SWO), ‘Setad,’ (the special office which executes Imam Khomeini’s decrees in helping the underprivileged), and Barekat Foundation, which is dedicated to creating entrepreneurs, building schools and infrastructure in underdeveloped regions, Salamat News reported. 

The ‘Social Care System for Students’ (abbreviated as Namaad in Persian), is a comprehensive package of both preventive and intervention programs for students who are at risk of social harm. 

Education as a means to keep students safe from social maladies and abuse, counseling services to identify those who are affected, and early intervention and empowerment programs to help them back to normalcy, are the main goals of the plan. The document’s focus is on prevention and provision of timely interventions to students who are, or could likely be, exposed to social harm. 

  Protocols, Guidelines Devised

Last year the process of devising protocols, content, and guidelines under the program was completed. “A total of 144 guidelines, 64 in education, 40 in screening, and 40 in intervention respectively, were developed,” said Mehrzad Hamidi, physical education and health deputy at the Education Ministry.

Earlier, Habibollah Masoudi Farid, social deputy at the SWO, said, “Counseling and social work offered by the organization can play an important role in redressing social issues concerning students. The project brings together organizations to identify students who are exposed to social harm such as violence and addiction.”

“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.”

Five major issues causing grievous social harm among the 12 identified in the country were prioritized for scrutiny: addiction, divorce, high-risk districts, social corruption, and informal settlements.

The Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has 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.

Masoudi Farid underlined the need for specialized social services, specifically for the educational system given that social maladies are increasing among the youth and adolescents.

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