TEHRAN (Iran News) – Minister of Education Mohsen Haji Mirzaei said Iran is giving free education to more than half a million refugees, the majority of whom are from neighboring Afghanistan at a time that Tehran is hard hit by Washington’s economic sanctions.
He made the remark in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily on Tuesday when touring the Iran Cultural Press Institute on the eve of National Reporter’s Day, which was commemorated on Friday, August 7.
Haji Mirzaei also urged international aid agencies to help the refugee students in Iran by providing them with gadgets such as tablets so that they can continue their education during the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister’s comments follow:
Iran Daily: We appreciate that the Education Ministry is in the eye of the storm under the severest pandemic situation to provide the best services to Iranian students. At the same time, Iran is hosting refugees and providing their children with free education. Please elaborate.
Haji Mirzaei: The education services which Iran is providing to the refugees are unprecedented. Over half a million refugees are studying in Iran free of charge. They are not living in ghettos, rather studying in schools and classrooms beside Iranian students. In some schools in the south of Tehran, there are more refugee students than local students.
The majority of the refugee students are from Afghanistan as well as Iraq and other countries. However, it is not just providing free education that matters. In some schools, authorities are also helping refugee students with food and clothes. Iran is an Islamic country, and such services are provided under Islamic teachings which stress humanitarian assistance to the needy people.
Is the Education Ministry satisfied with the international assistance to the refugees living in Iran?
There are countries that are hosting far fewer refugees than Iran but receiving more assistance. International organizations such as the United Nations shall do more to carry out their mission in Iran.
Iran is under economic and health sanctions and, as a result, hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the region. Now that computing devices such as tablets and laptops are not exported to Iran, the UNHCR shall take steps to help the refugee students. Many poor students are on the verge of quitting school.
Therefore, we urge such organizations to take due steps toward helping the refugees and their children under the pandemic situation which demands working and studying at home and the gadgets to do so.
How is the ministry proceeding in providing comprehensive education coverage online to Iranian students?
The coronavirus has its silver lining too. For about 15 years, there were plans to promote online education in the country. The pandemic helped us move ahead as fast as possible in the last six months.
While there are limitations with regard to Internet infrastructure in remote villages as well as financial restrictions to afford the hardware for online education, the ministry has devised strategies to overcome the challenges. Not all education is provided online. Students are allowed to attend classes if social distancing is guaranteed.
Online curriculum packages were developed in one month because the pandemic took everybody by surprise. Naturally, there were inadequacies. However, there are now efficient packages to help teachers and students.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews