پناہ گزین ٹیچر میلک کیماز کے ساتھ انٹرویو

میلک کیمازترکی سے تعلق رکنے ولا ایک پناہ گزین ہے اور اس وقت ایمسٹرڈیم کے ایک بین الاقوامی ہائی اسکول میں ریاضی کے استادنی کے طور پر کام کرتی ہے۔ اسکول میں وہ MAVO, HAVO اور VWO کےطلباء کو ڈچ میں ریاضی سکھاتی ہے۔

How did you end up in the Netherlands?

آپ نیدرلینڈ میں کیسے آئے؟

میلک اپنے شوہر کے ساتھ ترکی سے بھاگ گئی تہی اور ہالینڈ آنے سے پہلے، وہ تین سال تک عراق میں رہے، جہاں میلک نے ریاضی کے استادنی کے طور پر وظیفہ انجام دیا۔ جب میلک حاملہ ہوئیں، تو وہ جانتی تہی کہ ترکی واپس جانا اور عراق میں رہنا اب کوئی آپشن نہیں ہے۔ وہ اپنی بیٹی کے بہتر مستقبل کے لیے کچھ کرنا چاہتی تھی۔ پہلے انھیں اندازہ نہیں تھا کہ وہ کہاں جا سکتے ہیں۔میلک نے بتایا کہ، “ہمارے پاس کسی یورپی ملک کا ویزا نہیں تھا اور نہ ہی امریکہ جانے کے لیے گرین کارڈ”۔ انٹرنیٹ پر راہ حل کی جانج پرتال میں کچھ وقت گزارنے کے بعد انہیں معلوم ہوا کہ ہالینڈ ایک ایسا ملک ہے جہاں پناہ گزینوں کو استقبال کیا جاتا ہے، جہاں انہیں مدد مل سکتی ہے اور جہاں وہ آزاد ہیں۔ میلک کاکہنا ہے،”آزادی میرے لیے بہت اہم ہے، اسی لیے ہم نیدرلینڈ آئے”۔ اب میلک اور اس کے شوہر پانچ سال سے ہالینڈ میں رہ رہے ہیں۔ “یہ بہت بڑا قدم تھا، اورشروع میں مجھے آراستہ ہونے میں بہت مشکل کا سامنا کرنا پڑا۔ مجھے معلوم نہیں تھا کہ ہالینڈ میں رہنے کا کیا مطلب ہے۔ میں ہالند کی زبان نہیں جانتی تھی اور نہ ہی ڈچ ثقافت کے بارے میں کچھ پتہ تھا”۔ میلک اور اس کے شوہر خود ھی ہالینڈ آئے تھےاور ہالینڈ میں ان کا کوئی رشتہ دار یا جاننے والا نہیں رہتاتھا۔

آپ ریاضی کے استاد نی کیوں بنے؟

“جب میں چھوٹی تھی تو ریاضی کی استانی بننا میرا خواب نہیں تھا۔لیکن بعدمیں مجھے انتخاب کرنا تھاکہ میں کس سمت جانا چاہتی ہوں۔ اورمیں جانتی تھی کہ مجھے ریاضی پسند ہے۔ میں ریاضی کو ایک قسم کے کھیل کے طور پر دیکھتی ہوں یا پھرایک پہیلی کی طرح جسے میں حل کرنا چاہتی ہوں۔ اس کے علاوہ، میں یہ بھی جانتی تھی کہ دوسرے لوگوں کو ریاضی پڑھانا مجھےپسند تھا۔ اکثر مجھے اپنے بھائیوں یا اپنے گھر والوں کو چیزیں سمجھانا پڑتی تھیں اور مجھے یہ کرنا پسند تھا۔ اس لیے ریاضی کی استانی بننے کا انتخاب ایک اچھا فیصلہ تھا۔”

آپ کو کن دشواریوں کا سامنا کرنا پڑا ہے؟

جب میلک اور اس کے شوہر نیدرلینڈ آئے تو سب کچھ شروع سے شروع کرنا پڑا۔ انہیں ڈچ زبان یا ثقافت کے بارے میں کوئی اندازہ نہیں تھا۔ ایک AZC واقع ایمسٹرڈیم میں میلک نے خود کو ڈچ زبان کی بنیادی باتیں ایک کتاب سے جو آنکہ دسترس میں تھی، سکھائی ۔ وہ دس مہینہ AZC میں اپنے شوہر اور اپنی نو زاد بیٹی کہ ساتھ رہی۔ اب وہ جنوب مشرقی ایمسٹرڈیم میں اپنے خاندان کے ساتھ ایک گھر میں رہتی ہے۔ اپنے ڈچ کو بہتر بنانے کے لیے، اس نے ایمسٹرڈیم کی میونسپلٹی کی طرف سے پیش کردہ ایک مفت کورس کیا۔ اس کہ علاوہ اس نے Hogeschool van Amsterdam میں “Orientation Track Statusholders for the Classroom” (Oriëntatietraject Statushouders voor de Klas) بھی مکمل کیا۔ اس ٹریک کہ مدد سے نے نہ صرف اسے ڈچ زبان میں مہارت حاصل ہوی بلکہ اسے ڈچ کی تعلیمی نظام کے بارے میں بھی علم ہوا اورپر اسے سیکنڈری اسکول میں انٹرن شپ حاصل کرنے کا موقع ملا۔

اب وہ اسی اسکول میں ریاضی کی استانی کے طور پر کام کر رہی ہیں۔ یہ سب کچھ دیکہنےاور سنے میں آسان لگتی ہے۔ میلک نے بتایا کہ تدریسی ملازمت تلاش کرنا ناقابل یقین حد تک مشکل تھا۔ مثال کے طور پر، اس نے 40 سے زیادہ اسکولوں کے لیے درخواست دی جن میں سے صرف 5 اسکولوں نے جواب دیا۔ آخر میں، وہ دو اسکولوں میں سے انتخاب کر سکتی تھی۔ وہ بہت اداس تھی کہ کچھ اسکولوں نے بالکل جواب نہیں دیا تھا۔ “میں مختلف ہوں، میں سمجھتا ہوں، لیکن مجھے جواب کی توقع تھی ، خاص طور پر جب نیدرلینڈز میں اساتذہ کی کمی ہے۔” میلک نے محسوس کیا کہ ڈچ لوگ پہلے اس پر بھروسہ نہیں کرتے تھے۔ “وہ دوسرے لوگوں سے ڈرتے ہیں۔ وہ پہلے تو آپ پر یقین نہیں کرتے، لیکن ایک بار جب آپ ان کا اعتماد حاصل کر لیں تو سب اچھا ہے اور وہ بہت اچھے اور پیارے لوگ ہیں۔”

ترکی اور ڈچ کے تعلیمی نظام میں کیا فرق ہے؟

“ڈچ تعلیم ترکی سے تھوڑی مختلف ہے۔” مثال کے طور پر، میلک نے سمجھایا کہ ترکی میں اسکولوں کی بھی مختلف سطحیں ہیں۔ لیکن فرق انکہ عمروں کا ہے جس میں بچوں کی سطح تبدیل ہوتی ہے۔ مثال کے طور پر، ترکی میں ابتدائی اسکول بھی آٹھ سال کا ہے، لیکن ہالینڈ میں بچے کم عمر میں ہائی اسکول جاتے ہیں۔ اس کی وجہ سے، میلک کو یہ لگتا ہے کہ ڈچ بچے جو ابھی ہائی اسکول شروع کر رہے ہیں ان میں تھوڑا سا بچکانہ گی ہیں۔ میلک نے جو دیکھا وہ یہ ہے کہ ڈچ بچے بہت زیادہ خود مختار ہیں۔ ‘یہاں کے بچے بہت زیادہ فعال ہیں۔ ترکی میں استاد کو 100 فیصد فعال ہونا ضروری ہے، اور طالب علم صرف اس کی پیروی کرتے ہیں جو کہا جاتا ہے. “ہالینڈ میں، بچے اسائنمنٹس آزادانہ طور پر انجام دیتے ہیں بغیریہ کہ استاد ہر چیز کی وضاحت کرے۔” ایک اور فرق یہ ہے کہ ہالینڈ میں بہت سے مختلف قسم کے اسکول ہیں، جیسے کہ سرکاری، نجی یا عیسائی اسکول۔ ترکی میں صرف ایک قسم کا اسکول ہے۔

مستقبل کو دیکھتے ہوئے۔

اگرچہ میلک کو ترکی میں اپنے خاندان اور دوستوں اور اپنی ثقافت کی کمی محسوس ہوتی ہے، پھر بھی وہ ہالینڈ آنے کے انتخاب سے خوش ہے۔ اس کے خاندان اور دوست وقتاً فوقتاً اس سے ملنے آتے ہیں لیکن وہ خود ترکی واپس نہیں جا سکتی۔ میلک لیے سب سے اہم چیز آزادی ہے جو اسے ہالینڈ میں حاصل ہے۔وہ دوسرے پناہ گزینوں کو بتانا چاہتی ہےکہ شروع میں ہالینڈ آنا اور یہاں استاد بننا ایک بہت مشکل مرحلہ ہے، لیکن آپ کو کبھی بھی ہمت نہیں ہارنی چاہیے اور ہمیشہ اپنی پوری کوشش کرنی چاہیے۔ یہ وقت کے ساتھ آسان اور آسان ہو جاتا ہے.

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Written by Georgette Schönberger

Translated by Uzair Ahmad Saleem  from [https://brokenchalk.org/interview-with-melek-kaymaz/]

Educational Challenges in Laos

Written by Uzair Ahmad Saleem

Laos is a landlocked Southeast Asian country with a population of approximately 7.2 million people. It is one of the world’s least developed countries, ranked 139th out of 189 in the Human Development Index. The progress and wellbeing of the people and country depend heavily on education, but it faces many obstacles, particularly in early childhood education (ECE) and Primary education.

Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education (ECE) is the first phase of formal education for children aged 3 to 5. It attempts to prepare children for primary school by providing the foundation for their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. ECE in Laos, however, has low enrollment and completion rates, particularly for kids in isolated and underprivileged communities who frequently do not speak Lao, the official language of instruction.

According to the most recent Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) data, just 44.6% of children aged 3 to 5 years old were enrolled in ECE programs in 2019-2020, with only 37.4% completing them. Children from ethnic minority groups had lower enrollment and completion rates (32.8% and 26.7%, respectively), as did children from rural areas (40.8% and 33.8%, respectively) and poor households (36.9% and 30.1%, respectively).

One of the primary reasons for inadequate access to ECE is a shortage of ECE facilities and skilled teachers in distant and underprivileged communities. In 2017, just 28% of communities had an ECE centre, and only 18% of ECE teachers had received formal training, according to a UNICEF report. Furthermore, many ECE centres lacked basic infrastructure, such as water, sanitation, hygiene facilities, teaching-learning materials, and child-friendly surroundings.

Another factor contributing to inadequate access to ECE is a lack of understanding and demand among parents and caregivers, who frequently do not comprehend the benefits of ECE for their children’s development and learning outcomes. Many parents struggle to send their children to ECE centres owing to distance, cost, language problems, cultural norms, or household obligations.

To address these issues, UNICEF and other development partners are collaborating with MoES to broaden the Community-Based School Readiness Programme (CBSR) into rural areas not Lao-speaking and other educationally underprivileged communities. The CBSR program gives children access to high-quality ECE opportunities through community-based learning centres or at home, with the help of qualified facilitators and volunteers. As part of its parenting education component, the program teaches parents and other caregivers how to support their children’s learning and development at home.

Furthermore, UNICEF and other development partners are assisting the MoES in improving the pre-primary curriculum and ECE quality standards and developing and implementing a national ECE costed action plan. The goal is to provide all children with access to high-quality early childhood education programs aligned with the national curriculum framework and fulfilling minimal quality criteria. The action plan also includes methods for increasing the quantity and quality of early childhood educators and school principals and providing enough teaching-learning materials.

Primary Education

The second level of formal education, primary school, is for children between 6 and 10 years old. Its goal is to equip children with fundamental reading, numeracy, science, social studies, arts, physical education, and life skills. Laos’ primary education system, however, is inefficient and of low quality, contributing to high rates of repeat and dropout and subpar academic results for children.

According to the most recent MoES data, just 84.5% of children aged 6 to 10 were enrolled in primary school in 2019-2020, with only 76.9% completing it. The enrollment and completion rates were lower for girls (83.1% and 75.4%, respectively), for ethnic minority groups (77.9% and 69%, respectively), for rural areas (82.5% and 74.4%, respectively), and for poor households (79.1% and 70.7%, respectively).

One of the key reasons for the low quality and efficiency of primary education is that many children, particularly those from distant and underprivileged communities, have limited access to quality ECE programs. This has an impact on their preparation for primary education since they frequently lack the required language, cognitive, social, and emotional skills. As a result, many students fail to meet the curriculum’s expectations, repeat grades, or drop out of school.

Another cause of primary education’s low quality and efficiency is teachers’ and principals’ limited capacity and skills and a lack of pedagogical support and teaching-learning materials. In 2017, only 54% of primary teachers had received formal training, according to a UNICEF assessment. In addition, many teachers had to deal with issues including high class numbers, teaching multiple grades at once, a variety of languages, poor motivation, low pay, and little supervision.

A third reason for the low quality and efficiency of primary education is the low learning outcomes of students in literacy and numeracy skills. According to the most recent findings of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) assessment, which was done in 2019 among Grade 5 pupils in six Southeast Asian nations (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam), Laos placed lowest in both reading and maths. Only 18% of Laotian students met the minimal reading proficiency level, and only 12% met the necessary mathematics competence level. These findings suggest that many Laotian kids are not acquiring the necessary knowledge and abilities for future schooling and life.

In order to overcome these difficulties, the MoES is collaborating with UNICEF and other development partners to strengthen the primary curriculum and provide Pedagogical Advisors and teacher training. The goal is to improve the quality and relevance of the curriculum and increase teachers’ and administrators’ capacity and abilities in child-centred pedagogies, assessment, and school management. The Pedagogical Advisors are certified teachers who regularly coach and advise other teachers in their schools and districts.

Furthermore, UNICEF and other development partners are assisting the Ministry of Education in promoting safe and enjoyable learning settings, including adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. The objective is to guarantee that every child can access well-maintained, kid-friendly schools that promote their health, hygiene, and general wellbeing. Activities to raise awareness and prevent violence, bullying, and discrimination in schools are also part of the curriculum.

UNICEF and other development partners also assist the MoES in gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data for evidence-based decision-making and policy formation. The objective is to strengthen the planning and monitoring procedures for the education sector as well as to increase the accessibility, usefulness, and quality of educational data at all levels of the educational system. The program also involves assistance in performing national exams, such as SEA-PLM, to assess students’ learning results.

Additionally, the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education are investing in primary school performance through a $46.9 million project jointly funded by them. By enhancing teacher quality, school infrastructure, learning materials, school grants, student assessments, and information systems, the project intends to improve learning outcomes for almost 450,000 children in Laos.

Conclusion

Education is a fundamental human right and a significant factor in individuals’ and nations’ growth and prosperity. However, education in Laos confronts numerous obstacles, particularly in ECE and primary education, which affect access, quality, and efficiency. To achieve quality education for all children in Laos, the government, development partners, civil society, and communities must move quickly and in concert.

References
  • “Education.” UNICEF Lao People’s Democratic Republic, www.unicef.org/laos/education.
  • “New Project to Improve Primary Education in Lao PDR.” World Bank, 19 Mar. 2021, www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2021/03/17/new-project-to-improve-primary-education-in-lao-pdr.
  • “SEA-PLM 2019 Main Regional Report.” UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, 1 Dec. 2020, www.unicef.org/eap/reports/sea-plm-2019-main-regional-report.
  • Kamiya, Yusuke, and Marika Nomura. “Evaluating the Impact of Early Childhood Education on Child Development in Lao PDR.” International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 31, no. 1, Routledge, Aug. 2022, pp. 10–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669760.2022.2107489.
  • World Bank Group. “Maintaining Economic Stability in Lao PDR.” World Bank, 15 Aug. 2019, www.worldbank.org/en/country/lao/publication/maintaining-economic-stability-in-lao-pdr.

Cover Image “Happy children in a primary school in Lao PDR” by GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer via Flickr

Educational Challenges in Bahrain

Written by Uzair Ahmad Saleem

Flag of Bahrain. Image by www.slon.pics on Freepik

Bahrain has the oldest public education system in the Arabian Peninsula, dating back to 1919 when the first public school for boys was established. Since then, the country has made significant progress in expanding access and improving quality of education for both citizens and non-citizens.

According to data from the 2010 census, the literacy rate of Bahrain stands at 94.6% and as of 2016, education expenditure accounts for 2.7% of Bahrain’s GDP. However, despite these achievements, Bahrain still faces some challenges in its education sector.

Curriculum reform

The Ministry of Education has been implementing a comprehensive curriculum reform since 2015, aiming to align the learning outcomes with the 21st century skills and competencies. 

The reform covers all levels of education from kindergarten to secondary, and introduces new subjects such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation.

However, some stakeholders have expressed concerns about the adequacy of teacher training, assessment methods and learning resources for the new curriculum.

Equity and inclusion

Bahrain has made efforts to promote equity and inclusion in its education system, such as providing free education for all students in public schools, offering scholarships and financial aid for higher education, and supporting students with special needs and disabilities. However, some groups still face barriers to access and participate in education, such as low-income families, migrant workers’ children, refugees, and asylum seekers. 

According to a UNICEF report, only 65% of migrant children in Bahrain are enrolled in primary school, compared to 98% of Bahraini nationals. Migrant children may face language and cultural barriers, as well as legal and financial constraints.

“We need more recognition and protection for the rights of migrant children,” said Ali Al-Aradi, a human rights lawyer and a member of Migrant Workers Protection Society. “We need more scholarships and subsidies for migrant children who want to pursue higher education. We need more integration and dialogue between migrant communities and Bahraini society.”

Children in rural areas are more likely to drop out of school than children in urban areas, due to the lack of transportation, schools, and teachers in remote areas. According to a report by the World Bank, the dropout rate for rural students was 9.4% in 2015-16, compared to 6.8% for urban students. The report also found that rural schools have lower student-teacher ratios, lower teacher qualifications, and lower student achievement than urban schools. Moreover, some issues of gender disparity persist, especially at the higher levels of education where female students outnumber male students.

Quality assurance

Bahrain has established a National Authority for Qualifications and Quality Assurance of Education and Training (QQA) in 2008, which is responsible for evaluating and accrediting educational institutions and programs in the country. The QQA also conducts national examinations for students at different stages of education.

However, some challenges remain in ensuring consistency and transparency of the quality assurance processes, as well as addressing the gaps between the QQA standards and the international benchmarks.

Innovation and research

Bahrain has a vision to become a knowledge-based economy that fosters innovation and research. To this end, the country has invested in developing its higher education sector, establishing new universities and colleges, both public and private, and encouraging partnerships with international institutions. However, some challenges remain in enhancing the quality and relevance of higher education programs, increasing the research output and impact, and fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among students and faculty.

These challenges require concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the education sector, including the government, educators, parents, students, civil society and the private sector. Some of the possible solutions include:

Strengthening teacher development

Teachers are key agents of change in any education system. Therefore, it is essential to provide them with continuous professional development opportunities that enhance their pedagogical skills and knowledge of the new curriculum. Moreover, it is important to improve their working conditions and incentives, such as salaries, career progression and recognition.

Enhancing stakeholder engagement

Education is a shared responsibility that requires collaboration and dialogue among all stakeholders. Therefore, it is vital to create platforms and mechanisms that allow for effective communication and feedback among the Ministry of Education, QQA, educational institutions, teachers’ unions, parents’ associations, student councils and other relevant actors.

Promoting social cohesion

Education can play a role in fostering social cohesion and harmony among different groups in society. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the curriculum reflects the diversity and values of Bahraini culture and history, as well as promotes tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions. Moreover, it is important to provide equal opportunities for all students to access quality education regardless of their background or circumstances.

Supporting innovation ecosystems

Innovation ecosystems are networks of actors that collaborate to generate new ideas and solutions for societal challenges. Therefore, it is essential to support the development of such ecosystems in Bahrain by providing funding, infrastructure, mentoring, and policy support for research and innovation activities in education and other sectors. Moreover, it is important to encourage the linkages between academia, industry, government, and civil society, as well as the participation of students and faculty in innovation competitions, exhibitions, and events.

As one of the leading education activists in Bahrain said: “Education is not only about acquiring knowledge and skills; it is also about shaping our identity, values, and vision for the future. We need an education system that prepares our youth for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

Reference list

Alkhawaja, A., & Alkhawaja, A. (2022). Reviewing Inclusive Education for Children with Special Educational Needs in Bahrain’s Public Schools: A Case Study Approach. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2022.2095556

Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Denman, B. (2012). Curriculum design, development, innovation and change. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69, 1733–1738. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.12.131

Education & Training Quality Authority. (n.d.). About BQA. Retrieved May 27, 2023, from https://www.bqa.gov.bh/en/pages/aboutbqa.aspx

Education and Training. (n.d.). https://www.bahrain.bh/new/en/education_en.html

Gouëdard, P., Pont, B., Hyttinen, S., & Huang, P. (2020). Curriculum reform: A literature review to support effective implementation (OECD Education Working Papers No. 239). OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/5f4b9f0c-en

INCLUSION | Education Profiles. (n.d.). Bahrain. Retrieved May 27, 2023, from https://education-profiles.org/northern-africa-and-western-asia/bahrain/~inclusion

Inclusion Policies and Strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2023, from https://www.bahrain.bh/new/en/equality-inclusion_en.html

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Wikipedia contributors. (2022). Education in Bahrain. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Bahrain

Educational Challenges in Iran

Written by Uzair Ahmad Saleem

Iran has a rich cultural heritage and a long history of educational excellence, dating back to ancient times when it was known as Persia. However, the country is currently confronted with various issues in the education sector that jeopardise its ability to provide high-quality education to its citizens.

Around 7 million children lack access to education, and an estimated 25 million illiterates are in Iran.

Iranian Flag. Photo by Sina Drakhshani, via Unsplash.

Poverty

Education is considered compulsory in Iran for children aged 6 to 11. However, access to education remains a significant barrier in Iran, particularly for pupils from low-income families.

One of the main barriers to education is poverty, particularly in rural areas, where access to schools, qualified teachers, and transportation is limited.

Over the past three years, fewer students have been attending college. According to Iranian state media, this decrease is due to poverty, the absence of free education, and the lack of government support for college students. The total number of college students fell from 4,811,581 in the academic year 2014–2015 to 3,616,114 in the academic year 2017–2018.

Gender inequality

Additionally, Iran’s educational system still struggles with gender inequality. Girls are still underrepresented in higher education, despite the fact that their enrolment in primary and secondary education has increased dramatically over the previous few decades.

According to the World Bank, the literacy rate for adult girls in Iran is 85%, compared to 92% for adult boys. Many families still prioritise early marriage over their daughters’ education.

Because of this, female students encounter substantial obstacles while wanting to pursue education beyond the first grade, and gender segregation in schools restricts their ability to pursue further education.

Monetary issues

Another threat to Iran’s educational system is a lack of capital, which leads to a dearth of trained teachers, inadequate facilities, and antiquated equipment.

Many educational facilities are subpar and unsafe, with a scarcity of teaching areas. In fact, one-third of Iran’s schools are so flimsy that they must be demolished and rebuilt.

The city council chair in Tehran, Ray and Tajrish, Mohsen Hashemi, said that “700 schools in Tehran will be destroyed in case of a severe storm, let alone earthquake.”

Despite the government’s efforts to enhance educational investment, Iran’s educational expenditure remains low compared to other countries in the region.

According to the World Bank, Iran’s education expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 3.6% in 2020, much lower than the average education expenditure in other upper-middle-income nations.

While Iranian Constitution states, “The government is obliged to provide free elementary and high school education for all members of the nation and facilitate free higher education for all until the country is self-sufficient.” In contrast, Rouhani has ordered to shut down many schools in rural communities and to cut down the budget in the past few years.

An assistant professor at Allameh University stated that Iran’s percentage allocation of money to education is much less than the United Nations’ recommendation.

In addition, the school system cannot keep up with technological improvements due to a lack of resources. The lack of technology investment has led to outmoded equipment and a lack of teacher training, which has limited the use of technology in education and hampered Iranian students’ acquisition of digital skills.

Digital Inequality

Adding on, digital inequality is a problem that students have faced in recent years. A 2017 survey showed that 28% of Iranians had no internet access or only minimal internet access. While those with internet access, 80% of the users lived in cities and only 20% in rural areas.

During the coronavirus pandemic in 2019, when online learning was prioritised in Iran to reduce the virus’s spread, a considerable number of students dropped out. This was due to their inability to buy an internet connection and limited internet access in their area.

Sama Kindergarten and Elementary School – First day of Iranian new education year – for Kindergarten students and elementary school newcomers – Qods zone(town) – city of Nishapur. Photo by Sonia Sevilla

Political interference

Additionally, in Iran, the educational system is greatly influenced by the government, which has resulted in the politicisation of education and the promotion of a specific ideology.

The Iranian government strictly controls the curriculum, textbooks, and instructional materials used in schools and universities. School curricula are frequently linked with the government’s political and religious ideas, emphasising promoting Islamic values and the government’s version of Iranian culture and history.

The Iranian government’s influence on the educational system extends beyond classroom content.

It also affects the hiring and firing of teachers and university professors and the appointment of administrators. This can result in discriminatory hiring practices and the exclusion of individuals who do not align with the government’s ideologies, limiting the educational system’s diversity of perspectives and ideas.

Moreover, the Iranian government actively monitors and controls academic research, publications, and activities within the educational institutions.

Scholars, educators, and students who express opposing viewpoints or engage in critical thinking undermining the government’s narratives face restriction, intimidation, and even persecution. This generates fear and self-censorship among educators and students, restricting academic independence and the sharing of varied ideas and opinions.

As a result, the politics of education in Iran may impair students’ ability to think critically, question, and consider alternate points of view. It can limit their exposure to different points of view, limit their academic independence, and hinder their capacity to acquire critical thinking abilities, which are necessary for personal growth, societal progress, and fostering an open and inclusive intellectual environment.

Depletion of talent

Finally, brain drain is another educational challenge that Iran is currently confronting. Many talented and educated Iranians are fleeing the nation for better career prospects and higher pay.

According to the IMF, which studied 61 nations, Iran has the highest rate of brain drain, with 150,000 educated Iranians leaving their native country each year. The annual economic loss from brain drain is estimated at $50 billion or higher.

This brain drain deprives the country of its brightest minds, reducing the country’s potential for economic growth and progress.

Addressing these challenges requires significant reforms and investment in the education system.

The Iranian government must prioritise education by boosting funding in schools and universities, hiring and training qualified teachers, and upgrading curricula to emphasise critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.

Furthermore, the government must address educational challenges experienced by female students, particularly in rural regions, and promote gender equality in education.

Investing in technology is also essential for developing Iran’s educational system. The government must offer the most up-to-date technology to schools and institutions and invest in training teachers to use it successfully in the classroom. This will not only help students build digital abilities, but it will also prepare them for the demands of the twenty-first-century labour market.

By doing so, Iran can overcome these challenges and build a more prosperous and successful future.

References:

https://www.britannica.com/place/Iran/Education

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.MA.ZS?locations=IR

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS?locations=IR

https://iranfocus.com/life-in-iran/33917-the-iranian-education-system-in-tatters-due-to-poverty/

https://iran-hrm.com/2019/09/22/repressive-state-and-low-quality-of-education-in-iran/

https://observers.france24.com/en/20200421-iran-internet-covid19-distance-learning-poverty

http://www.us-iran.org/resources/2016/10/10/education

https://shelbycearley.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/iran-education.pdf