Educational Obstacles for Migrant Children in Iran: An Urgent Call for Reform
Foreign Children’s Education Crisis in Iran
Approximately 3,000 foreign children residing in the Iranian capital, Tehran, are currently not receiving an education, according to the Welfare Organization of Iran. These children, largely of Afghan descent, face significant obstacles in accessing education due to bureaucratic hurdles, such as the lack of a family code required for school enrollment. Maryam Khak Rangin, the head of the “Child Labor and Street” group at the Welfare Organization of Iran, highlighted this pressing issue, emphasizing the plight of migrant children living on the streets or working in city centers.
Understanding the Family Code System
Foreign citizens can obtain a family code and an educational support sheet for their children after entering Iran and registering with the relevant authorities or systems. However, this process is often challenging for immigrants, particularly those who enter the country illegally or under dire circumstances. Consequently, many children are left without the necessary documents to enroll in school, forcing them into child labor or leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets.
The Plight of Afghan Immigrants
Iran has hosted millions of Afghan immigrants for years, many of whom have fled war and persecution. Yet, despite their long-standing presence in the country, these immigrants, and particularly their children, face numerous challenges in accessing education. The story of Mohammad Moradi, an Afghan citizen residing in Iran, illustrates these difficulties quite vividly. Moradi’s attempt to enroll his daughter in Iranian state schools was initially unsuccessful due to the lack of a family code. His struggle sparked widespread discussion on social networks, highlighting the systemic issues faced by immigrant families in Iran.
Emerging Solutions and Growing Awareness
Following the widespread attention drawn by Moradi’s story, educational authorities in Iran’s Khorasan Razavi province contacted him. As a result of these discussions, Moradi’s daughter, Sana, was allowed to attend school. This case highlights the potential for change when systemic issues are brought to light. Despite the challenges, there is hope that increased awareness and advocacy can lead to necessary reforms to ensure all children residing in Iran, regardless of their citizenship status, can access education.
Institutionalized Gender Discrimination: A Deeper Look
While the issue of foreign children’s education is pressing, it is essential to understand that it is part of a broader context of systemic discrimination within Iran’s education system. Laws and regulations in the country have been criticized for perpetuating gender inequality, with differences in teaching boys and girls and the prevalence of extreme cases such as honor killings. Institutionalized sexism, justified using Islam, has resulted in intentional inequalities between men and women, with male perpetrators often taking the law into their own hands. The reform of these entrenched laws and norms is vital for the state to fulfill its international human rights obligations.
The Need for Comprehensive Education Reform
Addressing the education crisis for foreign children in Iran requires a comprehensive reform of the country’s education system. Iran is bound by the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to ensure education is available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable to all children. However, various discriminatory laws result in Iran failing to fulfill its obligations in these areas. For instance, the age of maturity for girls is set at nine and for boys at fifteen, violating the International Convention on the Rights of the Child that sets the age of maturity at eighteen years of age. Such laws encourage early marriages and child labor, depriving children of their right to education.
The struggle for education among foreign children in Iran is a complex issue, rooted in systemic discrimination and bureaucratic hurdles. While individual victories, like that of Mohammad Moradi’s daughter, provide hope for change, comprehensive reform is needed to ensure all children residing in Iran can access quality education. As Iran navigates this challenging path, international support and pressure for reform will be essential in upholding the rights of all children.
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