Prevalence of Illiteracy & School Drop-out Among Girls in Iran’s Deprived Areas

Shed Schools in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province

Recent figures indicate that more than 50% of Iranian girls mostly in Iran’s border provinces and marginal areas are deprived of education or drop-out of schools due to various reasons including poverty, lack of schools and educational facilities, early marriage, and budget deficit or lack of education funding.

In an interview with state-run ILNA news agency, Abbas Soltanian, Iranian regime’s deputy minister of education, revealed that over 151 thousand girls have left education in the academic year and are not registered anywhere and that they are not considered pupils at all.

He also acknowledged that the level of school drop-out among girl students is far more than that of boys, (ILNA news agency, June 25, 2018).

Masoumeh Ebtekar, women’s affairs deputy of Hassan Rouhani’s government, admits: “The statistics of the girls school drop-out are disturbing,” (ILNA, June 12, 2018).

The fact is that the figures on school drop-outs announced by Rouhani’s deputy minister of education are far less than the true number, as the statistics for students who did not attend school in September 2018 were about 1 million and 430,000 while the government official himself admitted that the total number of school drop-out for girl students is much higher than that of boys.

The statistics of school drop-out girls in the deprived areas and border regions of the country are more prevalent than in other parts of Iran, including in Sistan and Baluchestan province where school drop-out and illiteracy among girls are more prevalent where, according to Nasser Kashani, a member of the regime’s parliament from Zahedan, “156,000 girls have left education in Sistan and Baluchestan,” (Parliament news agency, November 28, 2015).

The statistics for girls’ school drop-out on other border provinces are also alarming. According to Rezvan Hakimzadeh, a deputy in the ministry of education, 50% of female students in different border provinces have been deprived of studying and forced to quit schools for various reasons, (State-run Aftab News, September 9, 2017).

Girls’ School Drop-out Due to Poverty

The main reason for the high number of girls leaving schools and education is poverty, and other reasons that prevent them from studying include the oppression, discrimination and injustice that Iranian regime applies to the deprived areas of the country, especially against women and girls.

Due to extreme poverty and financial pressures, or high school-fees, many families do not have the ability or the opportunity to send girls to school.

Many families also need the work of these girls to meet the end needs and these children instead of going to school are inescapably employed on farms or work at home to help the family’s livelihood in this way.

School Drop-out Due to Lack of Schools and Educational Facilities

The lack of schools and educational facilities in the area and the poverty of education are other factors for girls’ school drop-out and deprivation in many parts of the country.

In many villages and especially in the border villages, girls are forcibly excluded from schools because these villages either do not have a school, or because they are far away and there are no teachers to go to these villages, and girls are not provided with facilities including proper roads and commuting facilities to go to neighbouring villages or distant districts that may or may not have schools available to them.

In this regard, Abbas Soltanian, a deputy education official, said: “The main cause for the girls’ school deprivation or dropout is the large distance between schools and the villages,” (ILNA news agency, June 25, 2018).

Early Marriage Leads to Girls Dropping out of School

Another factor is the early marriage of these girls, which is due to the poverty of families who have no choice but to force their daughters to get married early.

This is so prevalent in deprived areas that even in the marginal areas around Tehran and around the brickwork (furnace) areas, early marriage of girls aged 13 and 14 years occurs abundantly. Incidentally, one of the reasons for the expansion of divorce in the country is the early marriage.

In this regard, the regime’s deputy education official said: “In some provinces and border areas, the early marriage of girls is the cause of their school abandonment,” (ILNA news agency, June 25, 2018).

Education Budget Deficit and Lack of Funding

While lack of educational facilities and schools has caused less than half of the girls in the deprived areas to go to school and despite the need for the regime’s education ministry to work to overcome these problems, the incompetent and unpopular government of Rouhani has been reducing the budget and cutting funds for education every year.