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A Couple of Words from a Teacher / Abdolreza Ghanbari

Posted on: 18th December, 2014
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HRANA News Agency – Abdolreza Ghanbari is a Persian literature teacher and a university professor, who was arrested on the day of Ashura (2009) and sentenced to death by Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 15. His death sentence was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2012 and his case was sent to the Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran where his verdict was reduced to 15 years in prison.

The teacher prisoner has issued a statement, a copy of which has been submitted to HRANA as follows:

1. My father was a gardener. I remember when he was back from the garden, his hands were severely damaged by scratches created because of working with flowers and shrubs. Seeing his hands made me feel sad, and I always thought that the beautiful flowers of different colors including yellow, white, red and pink were actually nurturing from my father’s blood. During winter, my Dad was always worried about the flowers of his garden being affected by the cold weather. He did all he could to protect the flowers in the cold days. Years passed and I was proud to be a teacher. My father was also very happy and said “teachers are also gardeners, and children are flowers of the garden.”

On June 18, 2014, we received sad news about one of our colleagues, a 40 years old teacher named Kazem Safarzadeh in a school in Khorramabad. When one of his students fall off his bed in the dormitory of a local tribal school, he was worried about the injured boy and took him to a hospital in Khorramabad with two of his classmates. But, the rain caused severe flooding and the river swallowed their car in an instant. The bodies of two students were found the next day, however the body of the devoted teacher was found after 14 days. Over the last couple of years there have been several examples of sad incidents and sacrifices that teachers have made. We shall remember the incident of Shin Abad school (in the village of Piranshahr in the region of Safilan, Lordegan in Charmahal and Bakhtiari province) and the dedicated teacher of the village, Yazdan Khosravi; Mr. Davari, the teacher of Almani school in a school in Nourabad in  Lorestan (in 2006); Khosrow Asgari Hassan, the school teacher of Nosrat Kola in Babolsar; Hassan Omiddzadh, the teacher of school in Bijarsar in the suburbs of Shaft in the province of Gilan; and a female teacher in the province of Khorasan and city of Mashhad, where she managed to rescue one of her students from drowning but she sadly sunk while even her name was never publicized; the incident of the School of Vahdat Mazafa in Meshkinshahr of Azerbaijan; the incident of the deaths of four students in a school in Chahbahar in 2001. In all these events, several devoted teachers sacrificed their lives because of absolute love, sacrifice and dedication to their students. It would be, therefore, very appropriate to put the word of sacrifice along with the word of teacher and vice versa.  Teachers are devoted human beings who can sacrifice their lives to educate their students.

Teachers are full of love, devotion, and passion while receiving the lowest possible financial and material benefits.

Parents have absolute love and sacrifice for their children, and teachers can similarly sacrifice their lives and even set themselves on fire (if necessary) for their students. I will not forget, and you shall not forget what Bijarsar village school teacher, Mr. Hassan Omidzadh said: “In the moments that fire was burning inside of me, I remembered looking at my students, holding their small hands and taking them out of the class. I could then close my eyes for a moment and do my last prayers. I asked God to save me from the flames of the hell after death. ”

What is the answer to all these sacrifices and devotions?

Our country currently has around one million and 13 thousand and 355 teachers and staff. Indeed, how could we describe our teachers: “the gardener is dying because of separation from his beautiful flowers while loudly grieving his loss?”

2. The first day of school and beginning of primary school has been the basic foundation of our education, but nowadays parents are experiencing bitterness of this important event. This is because the current registration fee is very high. Almost 92 percent of the Iranian students are studying in public schools, and the largest number of these students is attending primary schools. About 56 percent of all Iranian students study in primary level. According to the education officials, it is illegal to ask parents any fee in the public schools. However, it is impossible to find two schools not charging a registration fee or charge equal registration fee. It is important to note that the quality of schools have no role in determining the fees. Non-government schools provide education costs based on five factors including (1) manpower, (2) facilities, (3) educational programs, (4) training programs, and (5) the of space, equipment, and the application of the educational institutions. Even in the Sampad schools, elite governmental schools, and Shahed schools, the parents are charged about 200 thousand to 2 million Touman for the extracurricular classes. The geographical location of some of the major cities, for instance in Tehran from south to north, has resulted in huge differences between tuition fees. In Tehran, about 18% of the schools (1,500 schools) are private and tuition fee as high as 12 million Touman (around $4000) (for the fourth and fifth grades) have been reported. There are many poor students who quit school because of inability to pay the tuition and join many young labor forces or become social delinquents. According to the constitution, the education must be free and nobody should be charged with any service / tuition fee. While the tuition fee is increasing every year, who should be held accountable for this negligence?

3. One of the essential tools of educational planners is analyzing the education programs and training in the past and present. In the recent decades, dramatic developments have been observed in epistemology, and ontology and postmodern perspectives in education. Attention to these views and revisions are also necessary. Except for a handful books and articles analyzing these concepts, there appears to be a noticeable gap regarding research in these fields. The cost of education has been significantly increased over time, and the opportunity for managers and planners is slim. On the other hand, we can observe that the freedom of operation in the education system has been very limited. Similar to the rebels who use primary tools to fight, the education officials in Iran have been dealing with the recent technology development with a very recessive approach.

More than one hundred years ago, the foundation of modern education system established in Iran. However, there has not been any innovative view about the educational technology and teaching tools. A handful of schools that are recently introduced as electronic schools or true examples of modern schools are only decorative places being used to show off. On the opposite sides of these so-called modern schools, there are schools in the suburbs of big schools that suffer from lack of basic facilities such as classes, libraries and sports field or theater workshops and laboratories. There are also several other concerns regarding the education system. For instance, isn’t it more important to learn new methods of teaching and pay attention to the quality of the education instead of changing or substituting the lessons of a book? By the way, how much money is being spent on the quality of education and the best models of education?

Abdolreza Ghanbari

December, 2014