International Day of Education; an overview of the right to education in Iran in 2020

Posted on: January 25th, 2021

Hrana- This report prepared by Human Rights Activists (HRA) honors the International Day of Education by bringing attention to the state of education in Iran, specially during the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent challenges of online education. Furthermore, this report includes a statistical overview of the violations of the fundamental rights of students and teachers, as well as violations of the right to education that took place between 24th January 2020 to 20th January 2021 in Iran.

“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” (UDHR Article 26)

The right to education is a fundamental right that should be available to everyone free of charge, at least for children in the elementary and fundamental stages. However, many students in Iran have been deprived of their right to education due to the lack of facilities and educational spaces, and dilapidated schools. According to managing director of Society for Protecting the Rights of the Children (SPRC), there are approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped or in impoverished neighbourhoods in Iran, who are deprived of education. Also 49 thousand children do not attend schools because they lack documents such as birth certificate or are active part of the workforce. This statistic does not fluctuate greatly each year however, during the Covid-19 pandemic there has been approximately a three-fold increase in the number of children deprived of basic education, due to lack of proper infrastructure for online education and a sudden shift from classrooms to online schools during the pandemic.

In the university level, in addition to many systematic challenges for getting into universities, many students have been banned from attending higher education due to their religious belief. Students that believe in Baha’i faith are amongst those that are often deprived of either entering universities or completing their university degrees. In addition, on banning students from completing their higher education in Iranian Universities, many teachers and students or individuals that have any connection to the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) have also been arrested and given long prison terms.

Many student and teachers have also been arrested, suspended, expelled, or reprimanded for expressing their thoughts and opinions or for holding peaceful assemblies and publications.

These acts are violation of Freedom of thought and religion, Freedom of opinion and expression, Freedom of Assembly, and the right to education. It is worth mentioning that the right to education includes equal access to higher education for all on basis of merit.

Primary and basic education

Access to basic and primary education has not been equal for all because of various factors, including lack of infrastructure, lack of access for undocumented children, poverty, and cultural and language discriminations. According to the managing director of Society for Protecting the Rights of the Children (SPRC), there are approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped or in impoverished neighbourhoods in Iran, who are deprived of education. Additionally, 49 thousand children do not attend schools because they lack identification documents such as birth certificate or are part of the workforce.

This statistic does not fluctuate greatly each year however, during the Covid-19 pandemic due to lack of proper infrastructure for online education and a sudden shift from classrooms to online schools across the country, there has been approximately a three-fold increase in the number of children deprived of basic education. According to Minister of Education 3 million and 225 thousand children are deprived of education because of lack of access to internet or devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers.

‘Shad’ online education platform asking for national identification number. Photo: Social Media

Covid-19 pandemic and unequal access to online educational platform of ‘Shad’

With the outbreak of the covid-19 virus and the closure of schools, Education Ministry announced that it would resume educating students via the Internet and using a platform called ‘Shad’. The online platform, which requires Internet, has been criticized by teachers and civil society activists from the beginning of its announcement. The problems of online education in Iran and sudden closure of schools without providing any significant support to deprived students includes, lack of access to reliable internet in many parts of the country specially in rural areas, and lack of financial ability of students and their families to purchase necessary devices such as smart phones for this type of education .

Undocumented children: Another major discriminatory aspect of ‘Shad’ platform is that it requires students to register with their national identification number, which leaves undocumented children without access to primary and basic education.

Children in rural areas: There are also reports from various areas of the country that with lack of proper internet connection children have to climb to high points near their cities to be able to connect to internet and the Shad platform to attend classes.

Children from poor-housing or margins of cities: a great proportion of Iran’s population live on the margins of cities or are living in poor-housing conditions. Children living in these conditions are disproportionately affected by the sudden shift to online education and are further discriminated. According to Assembly of Spatial Planning of the Land, in 2020, 45% of Iran’s population were living in poor-housing or on the margins of cities. He continues, “if we calculate 45% of the 85 million population of the country that is today 38 million people living in the margins of cities or in poor-housing.”

Considering these statistics, almost half of the population of the country are living in conditions that makes online-education inaccessible for them.

Photo: IRNA

University and higher education

Higher education in Iran has limited sits available through a national examination system, where all students who wish to enter university have to pass this exam to enter into universities. Based on participants rank in this exam students will be placed into universities and majors of their choices. This exam is highly competitive and often students do not get accepted into their chosen university or majors. In recent years Supreme Leaders office had announced lower sits available to female students, however female students continue to take up more than half of university sits by higher acceptance rate compared to male students. According to the head of Sanjesh institute responsible for carrying out the national university entrance exam (operating under Ministry of Science, Research and Technology), in 2020, 101 thousand and 912 women passed the national university entrance examination that is 53.6% of all the those who registered.

Photo: FARARU

The following section consist of statistics by the statistics department of Human Rights Activists (HRA)

Methodology: The following statistics have been gathered and prepared by the statistic department of Human Rights Activists (HRA). These statistics consist of aggregation of data from HRA’s exclusive reports and documentation efforts, as well as data gathered from public sources. All the gathered information are fact checked to assure their authentication. This data is not exhaustive as many information and statistics are not available or HRA has not been able to verify their authenticity. However, this is a comprehensive report of the available data that HRA has been able to verify.

University Students

In the one-year period, between January 24, 2020 to January 20, 2021, 7 students were arrested, 3 student’s homes were raided by authorities and their personal belongings were confiscated, and 11 student activists were sentenced to a total of 512 months of imprisonment and 222 floggings.

Violation of the Right to Education: 23 Baha’i students were deprived of continuing their education because of their faith.

Violation of the Right to Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly: 20 students of the Mohaghegh University of Ardabil were reprimanded and suspended from university for gathering and attending the memorial of the victims of flight #PS752 tragedy.

Additionally The student publication of ‘Zed va Forough’ was shut down by authorities.

There has been reports of injuries resulting from the neglect and lack of proper infrastructure at universities and student residencies. On 28th January 2020, 4 students were taken to medical facilities after being poisoned by a methane gas leak from a sewage well at the Buein Zahra Technical University (BZTE) of Qazvin.

In this reporting period 21 student protests took place across the country.

Teachers and Union Activists

In the period of one year between January 24, 2020 to January 20, 2021, 3 teachers were arrested, 13 teachers were sentenced to a total of 334 months of imprisonment, 45 floggings and twelve million and hundred Toman in fines.
On August 10, 2020, a teacher at Jared and Balade a part of Kazeroun city of Fars Province committed suicide by drinking poison and lost his life. The reason behind his suicide has been attributed to failing the adult literacy exam.

 

For media and other inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior advocacy Coordinator at Human Rights Activists (HRA), Email: [email protected]

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for January 30, 2019

Posted on: January 30th, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on January 30th, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) More than five protests were organized across the country on January 30, 2019. The workers of Ahvaz inter-city rail, taxi drivers in Bukan, the customers of SAIPA and IranKhodro companies, the environmental activists in Behbahan, and the employees of Railway Services and Technical Construction Engineering Company (RSTC), have held separate protests to request their demands.

(2) A 27-year old was tried in absentia and sentenced to three years in prison and 74 lashes for “stealing a chicken” in Laly city in Khuzestan province.

(3) A retired teacher, Alireza Kafaei, was arrested in Gachsaran on January 29, 2019. The leader of Islamic Association of Teachers of Gachsaran is suffering from diabetes and severe heart disease. He was released on bail earlier today.

(4) Three Kulbars (Kurdish back carrier) died or were injured in Salmas and Baneh. Saman Salehi and Mohammad Karimi were killed after the Iranian border patrol opened fire to a group of Kulbars. Another Kulbar, Sammy Rashidi, was injured in another accident.

(5) A prisoner was executed in Noor prison on the charge of murder. Two prisoners, Hashem Badrkhani and Houshang Hosseini who were accused of murder, were spared from hanging on gallows by consent of next of kin in Bandar Abbas.

(6) Jafar Azimzadeh was transferred to Evin prison to serve his six years prison sentence. Azimzadeh and Parvin Mohammadi, the members of the Free Union of workers in Iran, were arrested on January 29.

(7) Three poachers have been arrested in Ghomishloo National Park in the Najafabad county in Isfahan province.

(8) The court was in session for eight environmentalists in Tehran without their lawyers on the espionage-related charges. Moreover, five of the detained environmental activists were charged with “corruption on earth”.

(9) A Baloch citizen, Yousef Shahouzehi, was arrested for an unknown reason in Nik Shahr county in Sistan and Baluchestan. His whereabouts is still unknown.

(10) Keyvan Bazhan, a writer and member of the Iranian Writers Association, was released on bail. He was arrested along with two other writers, Baktash Abtin and Reza Khandan Mehrabadi on January 22 on the charge of “encouraging immorality or prostitution”.

(11) Five senior managers of North Khorasan University of Medical Science were flogged on financial-related charges in this university. The head of North Khorasan Justice department confirmed that and added that the court cases fillings have been increasing by 14 percent in the last ten months.

(12) Hassan Hassanzadeh and Hassan Peyghami were released from Urmia prison after completing their prison sentences. They were sentenced to two-year prison term in exile on the charge of “cooperation with the opposition groups” and “acting against national security”.

(13) The school’s roof collapsed due to rains in Pashbard village in Sardasht county in the West Azerbaijan province. Students temporarily use a “conex [shipping container] school “.

(14) The head of Hamadan Mental Health Department & Prevent announced the launch of a campaign to end violence against women such as preventing domestic violence.

(15) The workers of Sisakht municipality in the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province have two months of unpaid wages. In addition, more than half a million construction workers are not covered by insurance in Iran.

(16) An authority of Farhangian University, Mansour Nikpanah, confirmed the teacher shortage of 14 thousand in Sistan and Baluchestan province.

(17) Six police officers appeal of death penalty conviction was accepted by the Supreme Court. They have been indicted on a murder charge in the killing of three young men.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for January 10, 2019

Posted on: January 10th, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on January 10th, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) More than five protests organized across the country. The educators and teachers in the cities of Kermanshah and Ardabil, the customers of SAIPA, Iran Khodro, and Bahman Motor in Tehran, the shareholders of Padideh Shandiz financial institution, and clients of Ayandeh bank in Dezful have been held separate protests to request their demands.

(2) A prisoner was publicly executed in Kazerun on January 10, 2019. He was charged with sodomy by coercion and kidnapping of two 15-year-old. In 2018, at least 236 people were executed, and 195 people were sentenced to death in Iran.

(3) Fouad Salemi was arrested on unknown charges by the security forces in Ahvaz. His whereabouts is still unknown. Moreover, He have been arrested during Ahvaz protests and was released on bail.

(4) Expulsion of Badi Safajou, a Baha’i Chemical Engineering student, from Islamic Azad University of Tehran due to his faith. Bahai students in Iran routinely experience denial of entrance to university or expulsion during their studies.

(5) A political prisoner, Seyed Mohammad Mohammadi, who completed a 15-months prison term for blogging, was accused of ‘insulting the Supreme Leader’ and ‘Propaganda against the state’.

(6) Leila Mir-Ghaffari court was in session for de-veiling. In October she was sentenced to two-year in prison, for having pointed to a picture on the wall. Mir-Ghaffari was initially detained for supporting the “Girls of Enghelab Street.”

(7) An Azerbaijani Turkic minority rights activist, Sajjad Monadi, was sentenced to one-year imprisonment on the charge of ‘propaganda against the state’.

(8) A prisoner was spared from hanging on gallows by consent of next of kin in Hamadan while Farhad Younesi who was accused of murdering Adel Rahimi three years ago was saved from execution.

(9) Two construction workers, died in their workplace in Shokoufeh square in Tehran because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions.

(10) A Sunni prisoner, Kazem Darvishi, who completed 2-year prison term was released from Urmia prison on January 10, 2019.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for December 23, 2018

Posted on: December 23rd, 2018

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on December 23rd, 2018 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) Iranian border patrol shot a 27-year-old Kurdish kulbar, Ali Mamveisi, in Sardasht. He was severely injured and was transferred to a hospital in Urmia.

(2) A 36-year-old woman committed suicide by self-immolation on December 22 in Kooy-e Saadi district in Ahvaz.

(3) In the last two days, six workers of Iran National Steel Industrial Group were released. More than 43 workers were arrested on December 19.

(4) A prisoner charged with murder was saved from death with forgiveness of the next of kin in Khuzestan.

(5) Behrouz Farzandi , a Baha’i prisoner of war and disabled veteran of Iran-Iraq war, has been denied his degree after completing a bachelor program in Business Administration.

(6) A citizen was severely injured after a mine exploded in Dehloran city in Ilam province.

(7) The Supreme Court rejected the death sentence of Marjan Davari, a 52-year-old translator and scholar in Shahr Ray women’s prison, who was sentenced to death on charge of ‘corruption on earth’ in 2017. She was a translator in the Rah-e-Marefat institution.

(8) Detained civil rights activist Reza Khandan was released on bail. His charges are “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state” and “encouraging prostitution by promoting non-observance of the hijab.”

(9) Esmail Bakhshi, a labor activist, returned to his workplace. He was a worker of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Argo-Business and was released on bail on December 12. He was detained for 40 days in prison.

(10) Nader Fatourechi’s court was on session on December 23. He confirmed that he faced persecution over his criticism of prison conditions after his detention at Fashafoyeh Prison. He was released on bail.

(11) A woman suffers serious injuries after an acid attack by her 20-years old step-son in Tehran. The two had financial disputes.

(12) The director of burn prevention research center: 40 percent of the burn patients are children and more than 15 percent of them are the women who are the victims of self-immolation.

(13) In a statement, more than 600 teachers requested immediate investigation of the causes and the responsible authorities in a Zahedan kindergarten fire. They warned that more than half of the schools in the country are unsafe.

(14) The appeal court of a Baha’i painter, Shahriar Cyrus, who was arrested on June 2015 and was sentenced to five years in prison will be in session on December 25th. He was accused of ‘assembly and conspiracy against the state’ by offering painting classes. He was a student of Aydeen Aghdashlou, Rouyein Pakbaz, and Ahmad Vakili and had been teaching painting for many years. He has also published articles on philosophy and art history in Iranian newspapers.

(15) More than 60 workers in Iranian Rail Industrial Development Company (IRICO) have been laid off due to company’s financial problems.

(16) Two workers died due to an unsafe workplace in Dehdasht and Gonabad.