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Why Baluchi children are deprived of education

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According to the most agreed international measures, Sistan and Balochistan provinces are among the poorest and most deprived regions of Iran. The impact of this on how children experience their formative years has been repeatedly addressed over the years. However, little attention has been paid to the educational situation in the state.

Most school-age children in Sistan and Baluchistan do not have the physical structure to attend class. If their village happens to have a tree that provides enough shade, it can also serve as a local classroom.

Yet even this modest learning opportunity is out of reach for many young people. Many eventually drop out of school to get some crust for their families. Families usually survive by smuggling fuel. This is a dangerous and poorly regulated activity that puts you in direct conflict with the IRGC.

Every Wednesday night at 8pm, IranWire hosts a discussion in Persian with Iranian child rights experts on Instagram Live. This week, we spoke with Abdullah Aleph, director of the London-based Baluch Activist Campaign, about 40 years of violations of children’s rights in Baluch. Below is a summary of this interview.

Highest illiteracy rate in Iran

More than 50% of Sistan and Baluchistan’s population live in villages, compared to the national average of 25%. Most of these villages lack basic facilities such as running water, potable water and mains electricity. In this context, it is not surprising that there are few schools in the traditional sense.

Abdollah Aref told IranWire that teachers are sent to villages far from the central government and have only a high school diploma. “The Islamic Republic is committing serious crimes here. These individuals are only there so that the local Ministry of Education can submit a positive report.

“That is why illiterate children are still illiterate in higher grades. We have received many reports from parents that their children are not learning anything. I lose interest in it.”

The 2016 census found that Sistan and Baluchistan had the highest illiteracy rates in the country, at 18.7% for men and 29.1% for women. Aref said the situation was even tougher for girls, as in rural areas, as many families did not allow their daughters to attend school in the first place. Instead, they often marry as early as they consider feasible, ruining their future prospects.

Disturbance of civil society in Sistan and Balochistan

For 40 years, the Islamic Republic has insisted on electing officials to oversee schooling in Sistan and Balochistan, said Aleph, who are not from the states. “High officials and commoners are brought in from other states. The excuse is that there are not enough educated individuals in the state.

“Sensitive jobs in provincial governments, city governments, and elsewhere will not be given to natives of Sistan and Balochistan. will give you a

According to him, there are many NGOs and other charitable organizations in Balochistan who want to actively build education in the province, especially for girls. “But,” he said. Governments have a purpose when it comes to education. To keep the state’s child literacy rate low. “

Iranian celebrities, sports and art figures have also tried to intervene. At least now the general public knows a little more about Balochistan. For her 40 years, the Islamic Republic has presented it through the media as a dangerous place where people are killed or killed.

“The celebrities’ activities have made the situation somewhat clearer. But some people in the state were upset, under the impression that they were being pitied like beggars. And a fair amount. Assistance has been provided, but people are still suffering because it was the government that created this situation.”

In fact, Aleph said, “Some of the celebrities who go to ‘help’ the underprivileged areas actually cover up crimes in the Islamic Republic. Baluchistan’s problems were caused by the Islamic Republic, not by the people. A famous line-up might be able to feed a few families here and there, but the problem remains. ”

Family vs Revolutionary Guard Corps

The widespread phenomenon of child labor in Sistan and Baluchistan has many causes, but “the biggest problem is poverty. According to official statistics, the province has the highest poverty rate in Iran.” [provincial capital] More than 60% of people in Zahedan live below the poverty line.

“Hundreds of fuel smugglers are killed each year. When a family member dies, it is the children who have to go to work. They are not included in the official figures.Some people have bogus jobs like street hawkers in other cities and states.Some people work in repair shops.

“Last week we learned about a 9-year-old boy who fixed a flat tire in a workshop in 40-degree heat. Our investigation revealed that his father was a fuel smuggler. was killed in the port city of Chabahar, the eldest of seven children.

“The Revolutionary Guard has warehouses and docks in Balochistan that they use to smuggle fuel. Kill the tribes and they themselves will wheel tankers of fuel across the border, they will execute the Baluchi tribes carrying small amounts of drugs, but dozens of tons of drugs will be sent to the Revolutionary Guards. They are being moved across borders under supervision.”