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3% of School-Age Children Left Behind

Financial constraints of families, physical and mental disorders among students and lack of access to educational centers are among the main factors that have deprived children of school or contributed to their dropping out at later stages
It is reported that for the new academic year, 12.6 million students have enrolled in schools.It is reported that for the new academic year, 12.6 million students have enrolled in schools.

Officials estimate that 380,000 students, for various reasons, will be unable to attend school in the new academic year, which starts on September 23.

It is reported that 12.6 million students have enrolled in schools and that nearly 3% of school-age children will not be in the classroom.

Deputy education minister, Ali Zarafshan, recently said that 130,000 students between 7-14 years are not in education, putting the percentage of school-going children in the 7-11 age group at 98% and the 12-14 age group at 94%. Another 250,000 in the 15-17 age bracket will not attend school, indicating 87% coverage in the upper secondary schools.

“However, as upper secondary education is not compulsory, we assume the total number of students out of school to be 130,000,” he said, Mehr News Agency reported.

Financial constraints of families, physical and mental disorders among students and lack of access to educational centers are among the main factors that have deprived children of school or contributed to their dropping out at later stages.

In trying to address the problem, the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare implemented a study last year to identify children who are out of primary school.

So far the study has identified 23,986 children (eligible to attend primary school) who are not in school as per data gathered by the National Organization for Civil Registration, they are not deceased.

Efforts were made with help from the Telecoms Ministry to contact the parents of these children, however, only 18,272 responded.   

Results of the investigation found that the primary reason for not attending school was poverty (Parents of 8,015 children said poverty and financial problems prevented them from sending their children to school), followed by disabilities in the children (7,217 cases), lack of access to educational space (1,552) and superstition of families (1,487).

In August 28, an educational workshop on ‘School Dropout Prevention’ was held in Tehran attended by officials from the Education Ministry and the UNESCO regional office, irunesco.org reported.  

Sa’dollah Nasiri Qeydari, secretary general of the national commission of UNESCO-Iran, told the meeting that out-of-school children in Iran can be categorized in three groups, namely children without ID Cards, children of  poor families, and girls who drop out due to child marriage.

“To alleviate the dropout problem, as a first step we should identify all students who have left schools in the provinces. Then the information should be sent to policymakers and authorities to help them develop workable  programs to address the problem,” he said.

  Problem of Refugees

There are an estimated 760,000 legal immigrants in Iran and close to two million illegal refugees. Children of illegal immigrants, mostly Afghans, have long faced difficulties in enrolling in schools as they do not have a national identity card.

In May 2015, the government passed a bill to amend the bylaw on Education Regulations for Foreign Nationals that would facilitate the enrollment of refugees in Iranian schools.

The move came after the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in April 2015 instructed all schools in the country to enroll Afghan children regardless of their legal status, underlining that no undocumented or illegal refugee child should be deprived of public education.

Based on a recent directive issued by the government, all school-age children can personally refer to the governorate offices throughout the country and receive the ‘education card,’ which enables them to enroll in schools even if they do not have proper identity papers.

All schools have been obliged to enroll children who have the education cards.

The measure has eased enrollment of refugee students in schools (last year, 360,693 Afghan children were officially registered), but as many refugees live in slums and deprived areas on the outskirts of large cities, lack of access to proper education remains a barrier.

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