Education of Afghan Refugee Children Costs Gov’t $140m

Education of Afghan Refugee Children Costs Gov’t $140m Education of Afghan Refugee Children Costs Gov’t $140m

The government spends as much as 5 trillion rials ($143 million) per year on providing education to children of foreign refugees and immigrants, most of whom are Afghans, said Abbas Nasrollahi, deputy executive director of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA).

He was speaking at the inauguration of the Molavi School for refugee students in Tabadkan rural district in Mashhad county,  Khorasan Razavi Province. Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the embassies of Australia and Japan also attended the ceremony, IRNA reported.

“More than 330,000 children of foreign refugees and immigrants are enrolled in Iranian schools, with the average education costs amounting to 13 million rials ($370) per student, per academic year,” said Nasrollahi.

Noting that so far the government has earmarked 1,300 schools for education of refugee students, the official said 13,000 more classrooms are required to meet their needs.

Pointing out that this year marks the 30th year since UNHCR office was opened in Iran, the official said the UNHCR offered financial assistance worth 100 billion rials ($2.8 million) in 2014 towards building and equipping schools for refugee students but noted that “the amount is negligible compared with the figure Iran is spending on education of foreign students.”

 Second School

Molavi School is the second school constructed in  Khorasan Razavi Province exclusively for children of foreign refugees and immigrants, most of whom are from Afghanistan. The 18.2 billion rials ($0.52 million) for the project was contributed by the UNHCR and the governments of Germany, Japan and Australia.

The school is equipped with 12 classrooms, one laboratory, a prayer hall and a library.

The 400 million rials ($11,400) required for building the library was contributed by the government of Australia, Hossein Shadkam, the deputy coordinator of the provincial Department of Education said.

Khorasan Razavi Province has the second largest population of immigrants and refugees after Tehran, being host to more than 150,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and India.

 Refugee Caseloads

Iran has hosted one of the largest protracted refugee populations in the world with the two major refugee caseloads being Iraqis and Afghans. Over 97% of the migrants reside in urban settings and less than 3% dwell in settlements. The government has provided services related to education, health and livelihood to the refugees with minimal financial aid from the international community.

The UNHCR first opened an office in Iran in 1984 and expanded its presence with the massive influx of Iraqi refugees following the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The imbroglio in Afghanistan also saw a huge migration of Afghans seeking refuge in Iran.  

At one time Iran was hosting 3 million Afghan refugees, while today their number is less than a million with most of them having returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban was ousted and civil rule established.

The UNHCR besides its central office in Tehran has three sub offices in Mashhad, Kerman and Ahwaz.