Rural Ahwazi children walk miles daily along dangerous routes simply to attend school

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The rural people of the marginal villages located on the highway between the city of Abadan and Ahwaz capital are stuck in acute suffering at all levels. Al-Soweyseh village lies about 20 Km away from the capital city of Ahwaz and administratively subordinated to Kot Abdullah county.

The village’s 2,337 residents are without a sewage system and deprived of even the most basic utilities and services, with all 530 households lacking a mains domestic gas supply –  this in the region that’s home to over 90 percent of the gas and oil reserves claimed by Iran.  The streets and alleys are unpaved and there is no school or clinic in the area, with girls suffering even more than boys from the lack of education provision in the area.
The village is one of the models that represent the suffering of Ahwazi villages in all fields and in particular the plight of the students in the area of education.  The lack of access to educational opportunities for Ahwazi children in rural areas forces young students hungry for knowledge to walk dozens of kilometers daily along hazardous routes with no pedestrian pathways simply to attend school.   From the moment the children leave for school, located in another village, until they return home, their parents are desperate with worry, knowing the danger they face.  Only last year, two of the students who set out for school in an adjacent village never arrived or returned home again,  with both killed in a horrific road traffic accident on the road between Ahwaz and Abadan.
This situation exposes their lives at risk to reach schools in nearby areas to receive education. The local villagers have witnessed the death of many of their sons while crossing deadly roads because of lack of safe crossing points and traffic lights for passengers. One of the mothers of this village that insists her son Sajad must receive education says “after the death incidents of children that occurred as a result of the fatal roads I have to take my son to school by myself fearing for his life from roads that claimed the lives of many of the children of this village during the past few years”.
Sayed Mashaal Alawi whose son Ali,  aged 13 years old, was one of the victims of  the deliberate negligence  of   regime  where he was subjected to  a car accident on his way to school. The father, who is still in mourning for the death of his son, says Ali got hit and killed when the car ran over him while trying to cross the road. He went on saying, “our village has seen eight incidents of this kind, and my departed son was among the eight who were victims of what we suffer from racism and by the responsible authorities. He adds, despite the fact that the region, in which we live, is an industrial area where sugar cane companies many manufacturing factories are surrounding our villages. And a large number of trucks are daily commuting from the area.  So the relevant Officials are supposed to look at our current condition and care about the safety of the citizens who live in the vicinity of these factories, companies and build bridges for rural pedestrians to avoid car accidents. In the end, he said that nothing can work out until the heedless strange officials are dominating on everything because our grave and critical condition remained intentionally invisible to the government authorities.
Girls cry because there are no secondary schools locally and they are forbidden from attending schools in other areas. The large number of girls are unable to continue with their education beyond primary level, despite there being more girls than boys in the area, are unhappy at the lack of any secondary education provision.  The girls are deprived of education for various economic and societal reasons, as well as by the lack of education provision and due to living in areas without adequate access to mixed or girls-only schools.
One of the students’ parents, speaking out anonymously for security reasons, said that ‘the Ministry of Education and the Iranian education system racially discriminates against the Ahwazi students in Arab towns, villages and districts. The students are suffering from neglect, deprivation and constant persecution because of Iran’s discriminatory policies and fail to provide basic services to these students.’
In fact,  all Ahwazi schools suffer from a sheer lack of services and power cuts on an ongoing basis. The Ministry of Education in Ahwaz deliberately withholds necessary services and facilities to Ahwazi schools while making them available to schools in the Persian cities.  For example, the Iranian state electricity company has cut the power supply to rural schools on Monday in Susa region, leaving students freezing in the depths of winter, after the education authority failed to pay the bills. The students have held protests, chanting “How can we write with frozen hands? Where is the electricity company?” As a result of this neglect a large number of Arab students fail in their education and drop out of school by the thousands. According to Iranian reports, more than eight thousand students in the Ahwaz region have dropped out of school at the age of ten. They do not, however, admit that this is due to negligence and racial discrimination against the Arab students in Ahwaz.
In addition, there is also inequality in regards to shortage of classroom, cooling equipment, heating systems, drinking water facilities, hygienic restrooms, audio and visual equipment, recreational facilities and sport halls. The miniscule investment in constructing schools in Ahwazi rural communities is part of the Iranian government’s systemic policies meant to pressure the Ahwazi rural population to eliminate their accessibility and right to proper education.In recent years, three factors are mainly responsible for the high rate of school drop outs among rural students in the early stages of their education. The first, is denying them the right to learn in their mother language. This causes the Arab students to fall behind due to difficulties that arise from learning the Persian language. The students feel they are forced to study in the Persian language, and the teachers do not motivate the Arab students to study properly. Second, there are not enough schools in the area and poor school facilities. This forces the rural students to travel over long distances. Third, severe poverty of families and their inability to fulfill the basic needs of their children such as books, notebooks, pens, pencils, shoes and decent clothing.
The Iranian regime continues to extract natural resources from Ahwazi territories particularly natural gas and oil without minimum economic benefit for Ahwazi Arab people. This disenfranchisement and Inequality are well-organized policies followed on a large scale by the Iranian regime as an aim to displace the Ahwazi citizens out of their areas to facilitate the grabbing of the bounties of this people who were entirely deprived of it since the beginning of the occupation until this moment.
In recent years, Ahwazi Arab people do not have control in the media to have their message out. This reason caused them to fail to tell the world what is going on for them under the ruthless Iranian regime. This long media blockade led Ahwazi people not only to face state violence and discriminatory policies, but also extreme deep-seated economic inequality since they deprived of any urban and rural development , proper schools and educational services  as well as employment opportunities so that they can enjoy a decent life.

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