UNESCO advises countries around the world to allocate between 4 and 6 percent of their GDP, and between 15 and 20 percent of their public budget, to education services. On the other hand, the Iranian regime only allocates 1.5 to 2 percent of its GDP and 10 percent of its budget to its education services.
In developed countries, the Ministry of Education usually plays a vital role in a country’s development and destiny, and the government places special emphasis on its education system, implementing both short and long-term programs to ensure that its education system takes advantage of all available technological resources. This is not the case in Iran.
According to Article 28 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran also signed in 1993, all member countries have committed to providing free education to children by creating equal opportunities. Also, according to Article 30 of the Constitution of this regime, the government is obliged to provide free educational facilities equally to all children throughout Iran.
There are almost two weeks left until the beginning of the new academic year in Iran. Each new school year is a combination of excitement, promises, planning, and high hopes for most children and parents around the world, however, the beginning of the school year in Iran has become challenging for most families.
Many parents have tried to pay the back-breaking costs of school fees, uniforms, stationery, books, and school services by reducing everyday expenses in their lives. School costs are now more than the monthly salary of a normal worker in Iran.
The purchase of elementary school books will be between 36 and 53 thousand rial based on the prices for the new academic year. The price of the first high school book is 89 thousand rials, and the price of the second high school book is 105 thousand rials. The total cost of stationery now exceeds one million rials.
According to the state-run website Fararu, the estimated cost of purchasing 17 items, including notebooks, pencils, backpacks, rulers, etc. is 1.2 million rials. According to this report, in 2022, people chose backpacks for their children with a price of less than 150 to 300 thousand rials, whereas a high-quality backpack costs at least 1,500,000 rials.
In short, these expenses show that, contrary to the promises of regime officials, education is not free and is used as another tool to extort families, the majority of whom live below the poverty line.
The regime’s Ministry of Education has approved the fixed tuition fees of non-government schools to increase by 38% in the new academic year. Tuition rates start at 4 million rials in areas such as Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province and reach around 35 million rials for schools in Tehran.
As mentioned in the education circular, this amount is just a fixed tuition fee. Families are expected to pay different amounts to the school throughout the year. A similar scenario has been implemented for private schools.
Education officials have constantly claimed that it is forbidden and illegal to receive tuition fees from parents who send their children to public schools. However, the story has a different face in practice. Under the pretext of ‘helping the school’, ‘budget deficit’, ‘lack of equipment’, etc., school administrators force parents to pay various amounts at the time of registration.
In many provinces, the parents are forced to pay the amount determined by the school, otherwise, their children will not be registered.
This is something that the schools in Iran have been pulled into it forcibly. In an interview with a state-run TV network, the director of one of the secondary schools pointed to the budget deficit they are facing and said, “When we have problems with water and electricity and education is not taken care of, what other solution do we have but to ask parents for help.”
Despite the exorbitant costs, public school education does not provide a promising future for children. Around 80 percent of the graduates in the national exam are children from private schools, which has created a vast inequality in the field of education.