One of the most basic rights of any human being is the right to education, but unfortunately not everyone in Iran enjoys this right. In addition to children born to Iranian parents, those born to one or both Afghan parents who do not have identification documents, or those children who do not have birth certificates, some children belonging to ethnic or religious minorities, or children living in extreme poverty, cannot take advantage of their right to education because even where free education is available, there are costs associated with buying stationery and clothes that some families cannot access.
In interviews, experts and children have identified lack of awareness among the citizens about their legal rights as well as a lack of knowledge about the importance of education in life as the main problems in this area.
Kamran, a social worker and children’s rights activist, stated: “Even though legally the public schools should not charge any registration fees, in practice these schools demand some fees to be paid to assist schools. This creates a barrier for the education of children from extremely poor families. These schools often pressure families to pay the fees and do not provide concessions to families facing financial difficulties. Even when schools agree to enrol the student, the pressure and the humiliation that the student has to undergo from the school authorities discourages the child from continuing his/her education.”
Despite the laws in Iran that refer to the universal right to education, according to experts, more needs to be done to implement and enforce these laws. A child’s rights activists in Iran clarifies: “Officials must be appointed to enforce the laws. But citizens must also feel responsible and work together towards improving the state of education. Therefore, in addition to making legal protection available to all strata of society to improve education, there is a need to promote social awareness and build suitable infrastructure to achieve this goal.”