Students’ Stirring Support for Cancer-Stricken Teacher

Students’ Stirring Support  for Cancer-Stricken TeacherStudents’ Stirring Support  for Cancer-Stricken Teacher

For 300 pupils in a school in Hamedan Province the news that their teacher had cancer prompted an unusual response -- they shaved their heads in sympathy.

“They did it out of respect to a teacher and a champion,” Abdollah Jafari, an education official in the province who witnessed the pupils’ en-masse gesture after morning classes on Wednesday, told Mehr news agency.

Pictures on state media showed the teacher, Mohammad Reza Ghaderi, a former top cyclist and national champion several times in the 1990s, surrounded by dozens of smiling children who now have matching bald heads.

After a cycling career that included appearances in major championships, Ghaderi, now 36, became a physical education teacher and works at Ayatollah Masoumi School in Hamedan, around 300 km from Tehran.

“I am so happy to have the pupils’ affection and love. I feel God has given me a new life,” he was quoted as saying.

One of his friends arranged the head-shaving ceremony.

“Mohammad Reza spends the money he earns from teaching on buying balls, bicycles and sportswear for his pupils. He loves his pupils,” said his friend, Majir Khezriyan. “I wanted to lift his morale so I talked to the school’s officials and they welcomed the idea,” he added.

 High Mortality Rate

Cancer is the third-highest cause of death in Iran and mortality rates have risen in recent years. The chairman of the Cancer Research Center of Iran, Mohammad Esmail Akbari, says that 41,000 Iranians die from different cancers each year.

A campaign to raise awareness about cancer is to be launched on World Cancer Day on February 4, 2015.

 Dr. Ali Motlagh, head of the Cancer Office at the ministry of health told ISNA the campaign will be launched in collaboration with the education department, IRIB, community-based organizations and volunteers.

‘’Educational programs, infomercials, city posters and contests are all part of the campaign, which is designed to run for a short time, but the educational component will continue with the help of the education department at schools, since adolescents and young adults are the most influenced by the programs,” he said. Motlagh said the initiatives are aimed at raising awareness and the responsibility for stepping up preventive measures falls on the government. ‘’For instance, when it comes to tackling smoking, we need the Supreme Council of Health to get involved as do the other public and private sector institutions,’’ the official noted.