According to Fars news agency, the head of Abadan city’s Department of Education said on Saturday that the city is facing a significant shortfall in securing sufficient teaching personnel for the upcoming academic year, with 700 more teachers needed to fulfill the city’s and region’s education needs, adding that it’s currently drafting regime soldiers to fill teaching positions.
Speaking at a meeting of local officials, Jawad Alvanian said, that the region’s primary schools alone need 203 more teachers, adding “We have 50 schools and more than 75 classrooms in villages and rural areas of Abadan which are suffering a significant lack of teaching staff, plus we don’t have a sufficient number of reserve teachers to be sent to those areas.”
The senior official said that the education department has a plan to resolve this problem, explaining, “We have to remedy our inability in this regard and have asked the military service department to provide us with educated soldiers to avoid these shortages and the lack of teachers for this year.”
According to the latest statistics, a total of 48,000 students are currently registered at schools across Abadan city alone, with the education department’s manpower shortages leaving them woefully understaffed. According to education experts in the Al-Ahwaz region, the education department’s problems will put considerable pressure on the department heads.
The city of Abadan overlooking the famous Shatt al-Arab waterway, which was once a jewel in the crown of Al-Ahwaz, is a typical example of how the scars from the Iran-Iraq war still haunt Al-Ahwaz, with much of Abadan still unreconstructed 28 years later and its Arab people lacking basic amenities like schools, decent hospitals, homes, recreation facilities, parks and commercial and institutions. This is despite the fact that the city houses a well-tended state-owned oil refinery, one of the first constructed in the region.
Denial of educational facilities is said to be a policy for excluding and depriving the Ahwazi Arab people of social, cultural enlightenment, and educational prosperity.
As school season begins on the 23rd September each year, the entire Ahwazi Arab students, are denied to free education in their native language which is Arabic. Instead, they have to endure the same hardships and discrimination imposed on the previous generations by the curriculum under Iran’s oppressive regime
The right to education is recognized under international law. Article 13.1 of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which Iran is a party, recognizes the right to education. Article 26 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also enshrines such a right. In fact, the Article warrants ‘education to be free,’ at least in the elementary levels mandating compulsory attendance, directed at ‘understanding and tolerance’ for the ‘maintenance of peace.’ Despite being a signatory to these laws, Iran has violated its pledges going against the spirit of its current constitution by not allowing ethnic groups to have the same standard of education in their mother language under equivalent conditions.
There are also unequal conditions with regard to the shortages in the classroom. There is also a dire need for facilities: cooling equipment, drinking water machine, hygienic latrines, audio and visual equipment, recreational facilities, and sport halls. The scarcity of schools constructed in Ahwazi rural communities highlights the failing government promise for free education, particularly at the elementary level and imposes more pressure on the rural families to educate their own children.
The drop-out rate for children at the elementary level in rural areas is a staggering. Three factors were the major contributors to these drop-out rates: The first factor is the denial of the right to education in their mother language. The imposition of Persian as the sole language studied puts the Arab students at a huge disadvantage because it is not the language spoken at home. Secondly, there are not enough schools in rural areas and the ones in place may be at vast distances from a large sum of the kids attending. In the majority of cases, schools are also ill-equipped to handle the numbers attending class. Thirdly, the severe poverty of families and their inability to fulfill the basic needs of their children for class, such as the provision of texts, notebooks, pens, pencils, shoes and decent clothing. This severely impairs the learning conduciveness of those that attend.
Students aged 7 to 12 in many schools in throughout Ahwaz region separately have to attend the school for half of the day. Three groups come in the morning and another three groups in the afternoon. Despite these conditions, the children are attending the schools which have only three or four classrooms with up to 45 students cramped into each classroom without having enough desk and bench to sit on so some students have to sit on the floor. It means the ones who arrived late have to learn sitting down on the ground because of the lack of educational facilities, like tables and chairs. As the numbers of students increase with the growth in population, class sizes have become unmanageable, as well as prompting a need for more qualified teachers.
In addition, more can be done for Ahwazi students with disability. Often they are forgotten and neglected and have to make do with none-to-limited special services or schools designed for them. For instance, rural students with hearing problems do not have access to special schools. Like the rest of the Arab students, they have to travel long distances to attend in their neighboring schools. Because they experience hardship at an even greater level, often they give up. When this happens, their families have only one option, which is to keep their disabled children at home. This has a downward spiralling effect, as they will face limited opportunities because they cannot take care of themselves and they lack a formal education.
Other reason leading to students dropping out is the discrimination and stereotyping in schools against them by the Persian teachers. Another cause for dropping out of rural students is the trade-off of money for education. Poor families who need their children to work send off their children to earn a living and contribute to the household income instead of sending them to school for an education.
All this is happening while the regime, which continues to make billions of dollars from the oil and gas extracted from the Ahwaz region, is encouraging foreign oil companies to invest there – with any subsequent income benefiting the regime rather than the long-suffering peoples, who subsist on an average income of 50 cents per day, far below the poverty threshold nationally or internationally.