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Iran: Educating the Young Generation, Khamenei’s Last Priority

A desert school in Sistan and Baluchistan, one of the most deprived regions of Iran.
A desert school in Sistan and Baluchistan, one of the most deprived regions of Iran.

In most countries around the world, governments pay special attention to the education system and contribute short and long-term programs to ensure that their education system benefits from all the latest educational, technological, and scientific resources.

In these countries, the educational system is responsible for the education of the country’s next-generation, the children and youths who will eventually take control over the country and lead future generations.

In Iran, however, under the mullahs’ rule, the educational system has become one of the indexes of social inequality. While UNESCO has suggested that governments around the world allocate four to six percent of their GDP and 15 to 20 percent of their general budget to their educational system, respectively, in Iran, the regime allocates only 1.5 to 2 percent of its GDP and 10 percent of its general budget to their educational system.

Halfway through the latest school year in Iran, many students in deprived villages in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan still face a shortage of teachers, textbooks, and stationery.

According to the state-run daily Hamshahri, Sistan and Baluchistan are one of the most deprived provinces in terms of per capita education and teacher availability. This academic year, 863,817 students have enrolled at school, but the country is facing a significant shortage of around 12,423 teachers.

As the student population of Sistan and Baluchistan Province is projected to exceed 1.1 million by 2025, there are still many concerns about providing enough teachers to meet the needs of these students.

“There has always been a shortage of teachers in the province, but this year the shortage is increasingly noticeable,” a teacher in a deprived area of ​​Saravan told Hamshahri.

He added, “Many schools in border villages, such as Ziarat, Haqabad, or Keshtegan, are facing a serious shortage of teachers or textbooks.”

According to this teacher, most of the teachers in these areas are non-natives. Due to economic challenges, many of these teachers have applied for a transfer elsewhere. He explained that due to the lack of manpower in schools, some classrooms with a population of about 100 have only one teacher.

Another teacher in the area also spoke to the Hamshahri daily, saying, “In the middle school, each teacher handles teaching certain subjects. But due to the shortage of teachers, our school’s teaching staff has only two teachers, one of whom is a volunteer, i.e., without pay.”

He went on to emphasize that the Ministry of Education is unwilling to take responsibility for the problem of teachers and textbooks. This year alone, five employees of the district’s education department have resigned due to the aforementioned problems.

Ismail Ola, a faculty member at Farhangian University said, “Not only in the recruitment of teachers but also in the training of teachers and the system of assessment and acquisition of their professional competencies, we face a turmoil in the maintenance and improvement of human resources and continuous evaluation and improvement of their competencies as well as the administrative and executive system.”

The issue of teacher shortage in the Sistan and Baluchistan Province is not new and is repeated almost every year. The lack of textbooks adds to the problems students face in this province. This year, students at 277 remote schools did not have textbooks until recently.

The Sistan and Baluchistan Public Relations Office for Education has emphasized that departments usually use textbooks from previous years if new textbooks are delayed and that they still do so in some schools, especially for students in rural areas at the country’s borders.

The Province’s Director-General of Education believes the shortage of labor and per capita, educational space is the most critical problem of education in the province, which has been accompanied by the growth of the student population and the unusual dispersion of rural areas in this province.

Hassan Ali Mir Abdi added, “Sistan and Baluchistan is the second largest province in the country, the distance from the northernmost to the southernmost point is more than 1,200 km. The dispersion of the student population in the province is 3.85 per square kilometer, which makes it difficult to distribute educational resources and equipment. There are currently 32,779 teachers across the province, but we need another 12,423 teachers.”

These figures are just the tip of the iceberg of the state of education in a regime for which education has no priority. Perhaps it can be said that in a country where astronomical corruption of government officials is all too common and there is no accountability and transparency, the children of this country, who are the future of Iran, are still worried about having their teacher, school, or textbooks.

Given that the 2022 budget presented to the Parliament by the regime president Ebrahim Raisi was mainly allocated to law enforcement, security, military, and repressive forces, it comes as no surprise that we will likely see further damage and deterioration of the Iranian educational system and the hopes and dreams for the futures of the children of Iran.