Ahwazi children are caught between devil and deep blue sea amid deteriorating education

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29 Jul 2018

Children are the main asset and future of nations that need to be prepared with necessary knowledge and be protected from any harm since they are fragile due to their age and dependency on adults. Children spend half of their time at schools and classes where the safety of the building should be well-equipped and maintained by the state as it is the main responsible body for this task.

Children in Ahwaz region, however, study in a dangerous environment where the fear of classrooms’ collapse is so real that the Managing Director of Modernization, Development and Equipping of Schools in Ahwaz warned that ‘in 15 education districts in the province, more than 40 percent of schools are unsafe and susceptible to collapse. In addition, approximately 29 percent of schools need retrofitting and only 44 percent of the classes in the province are safe for study. [1]

Although, the north part of Ahwaz is considered the fifth-biggest province in terms of population density, it ranks 23 among 31 provinces of the country in terms of per capita standard of educational space, reaching only 4.83 square meters in comparison to 8.39 Square meters of standard space for education in Iran. [2]

The other peril that effects the well-being and education of children in Ahwaz is the increase of sandstorms in the last 15 years. To explain the cause of such regular storms, environmental experts made connection between the drying of marshlands, shortages of water used for agricultural activities and the weakening of the surface of the soil in Ahwaz as a result of constructing more than 60 dams on Ahwazi rivers and tunnelling the Ahwazi water to central provinces in Iran. [3]

Maryam Afshari, expert in psychology revealed that regular dust storms and air pollution are harmful to children due to their physical vulnerability. As a result of such pollution, children are more likely to acquire behavioural disorders, aggression, nervousness, physical violence, memory impairment and lack of attention and focus in the school which finally increase the educational dropout. The permanent feeling of fatigue and irritation for children are very harmful because at this age the nervous system is under development and the dust pollution can lead to neural disorder. [4]

The primary responsibility of Iranian state to guarantee the safety and well-being of Ahwazi children in schools and the living environment is unquestionable. Iran is party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It has legal duties to ensure children survive and develop healthily; have the right to good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that they will stay healthy. Children have the right to a standard of living to meet their physical and mental needs; and have the right to education under Article 6, 24, 27 and 28 of this Convention respectively. [5]

References

[1] Iranian Student’s News Agency, ‘Only 44 percent of classrooms are safe in Khuzestan province’ (21 July 2018) <https://www.isna.ir/news/97043016331/تنها-44-درصدکلاسهایدرسدرخوزستانایمنهستند> accessed 28 July 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Iranian Student’s News Agency, ‘Khuzestan representatives stressed the need to control the crisis centres in order to prevent the entry of dust’ (1 December 2017) <https://www.isna.ir/news/96090100205/تاکیدنمایندگانخوزستانبرکنترلکانونهایبحرانیجهتجلوگیری> accessed 28 July 2018.

[4] Mashregh News, ‘All side effects of dust pollution in Khuzestan province’ (14 February 2015) <https://www.mashreghnews.ir/news/389172/همهعوارضگردوغباردرخوزستان> accessed 28 July 2018.

[5] Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Treaty Series, vol 1577, p 3, 20 November 1989.

By Abdulrahman Hetteh

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