Statistics show that currently there are 1,300 stone schools in this province. Eighty of them have been identified as the most dangerous. In this context, these schools are scheduled to be demolished by October and replaced with buildings constructed with polymer materials.
A preliminary estimation shows that the plan needs to $3.125 million. Donors admitted paying 50 percent of the required budget and the remaining money is supposed to be covered by the government.
The elimination of caravan, mud, clay brick and stone schools in Iran is not new. In 2012, simultaneous with the inauguration of two smart schools, then-Education Minister Hamid Reza Haji Babai announced the elimination of non-standard schools.
Nearly eighty years have passed since the announcement of this government official. However, many students are still studying in non-safe classes with unsteady walls and wonky roofs.
In 2012, the national celebration of the dismantling of nearly a thousand clay brick and mud schools was scheduled to take place. However, the celebration was delayed due to a few schools in Sistan and Baluchestan according to the then minister.
Stone, Clay Brick, and Mud Schools in Khuzestan Province
The elimination of Khuzestan’s stone schools started in 2016. In August 2016, the former director-general of Khuzestan Province’s Renovation Organization Reza Rezaei announced that the clay brick and stone schools would be demolished until March 2017.
“In the 2016-17 academic year, more than 90 educational places will be used in the form of 360 classrooms if the required credit was provided. Therefore, we would not see any more clay brick and stone schools in Khuzestan province,” Rezaei said. Now, the implementation of the plan has been postponed to 2020 and the director-general of Renovation Organization Ali Ghorbani says it will be completed in the next three years.
The infrastructure of 11 Schools in One Month
“They had written letters to demolish the caravan schools. I am working in the Education Ministry for several years. They write letters every year, but in practice, nothing is done,” said Shahram Ali-vand, the head of training Chelo nomads in Indika area.
“These schools were supposed to be removed and replaced by one- or two-grade brick schools. However, one brick school has been built alone and one is under construction in the last two years,” Ali-vand added.
The village of Deh Sokhteh with 10 students, Talash with 27 students, Sangbaran with 4 students, Darhahanar with 8 students, Parsa and the Congress respectively with 8 and 6 students, and Delisfella with 37 students are merely a part of the many clay brick and mud schools in the Chelo of Indika areas.
“Ten days before coronavirus entered Iran, we had been informed about the coming of prefabricated schools in Chelo area. I sold my car and paid more than $1,000 for the infrastructure of a school. The Renovation Organization asked us to identify several schools for assembling prefabricated schools. I listed those schools that had communication roads,” Ali-vand said.
“However, nothing was inked. There is a small city and we account for words. In February, Renovation officials called and told us to start the infrastructure of the first school soon. We did it in 10-15 days and sent its photos. Later, they only questioned me about how much I paid, and I sent receipts. They have yet to pay what I spent. They do not talk more about when and where the project would start. I can finish the infrastructure of 11 schools in a month if the Renovation announces,” Ali-vand added.
Stone Schools in Andimeshk City, Northern Khuzestan
Andimeshk city is also no stranger to stone schools. Eight of all 21 schools in Alvar region had been constructed with stone and mud. Also, there is no news about replacing these schools. The regional education office allocated three caravans to use in return for dangerous schools.
“The state of schools is not standard. There is automatically no education when the state is non-standard. These schools are hot in summer and cold in winter. Most of them are placed in impassable areas. Do you think educational justice is observed in such places?” said Bahman Mohajer, an educational guide of Alvar region with 20 years of experience. Notably, the mentioned schools are also the teachers’ dorm after working hours.
$18 Million of Credit and Skepticism Over the Projects’ Implementing
There are around 30,000 schools in Khuzestan province. Thirty percent of them are destroyed according to reports. Many schools are torn by quakes and the names of 114 schools were added to the list of under-repair schools after floods in April 2019. On the other hand, there are 1,300 stone schools, which seems that it would not be replaced soon.
“There are 315 caravan classes mostly in urban and rural areas, which were replaced with the building. Caravans were supposed to be delivered to nomadic areas. We have 1,300 stone schools in our nomadic region. These schools have been scheduled to be demolished until three years,” Ghorbani said.
According to Ghorbani, the elimination of 80 stone schools was supposed to end by October. However, there were several logistic problems. On the other hand, he stated that the plan needs $18 million to be implemented. Furthermore, he reckoned that the coronavirus has frozen the project.
“The 1,300 stone schools are the Khuzestan’s reality, however, the $18 million is a large amount,” Ghorbani said while expressing hope about covering the expenditure through donors and endowment organizations.