Iranian teachers fail to make ends meet, education system at risk of collapse

In 2020, the average salary of teachers in Iran was 58 million rials [$221] per month. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the former head of the Planning and Budget Organization, had previously pledged that this salary would increase in the following school year. However, there is still no tangible progress in this context.

Shahryar Fuladvand, head of the education ministry’s office for non-profit schools, had previously said that the minimum salary for teachers in non-profit schools was 38 million rials. [$145].

According to official statistics, there are around one million teachers in Iran. “For many years, livelihood issues and financial pressure dissolved the power of the creators of generations,” wrote Kebna News website on October 12, admiring teachers for training the next generation.

However, these selfless people have met no response to their demands, but “we have no budget” on behalf of ministry officials whenever they have raised their voices for fair wages and arrears. They were convinced that the education system does not care about their dilemmas, severely frustrating them.

However, their difficulties are not limited to the financial aspects. Indeed, the social position of teachers has been called into question in recent years. After decades of honest service, they are forced to close classrooms and flood the streets for their inherent rights. Many took on additional careers such as taxi driving and street selling to make ends meet. They see a bleak future on the horizon.

On the other hand, teachers have for many years been confronted with deficits in educational content and the lack of adequate school facilities. “The education system has not seen any development for 200 years,” said Ali Zekri, an education expert. “Tables and benches filled the traditional schools.

Zekri also explained that a dogmatic and soulless atmosphere had dominated the educational centers. “Many schools are deprived of equipped laboratories, sports fields and other necessities. Classrooms do not encourage students to learn, ”he added.

Unresolved teacher demands

Unresolved demands and the increasing rate of financial dilemmas are other issues that keep teachers raising their voices. However, education officials still treat teachers’ requests with indifference, pushing them to resort to other avenues to obtain their inherent rights.

“There is no government institution or ministry with such a large volume of official arrears,” said Hessamoddin Pour-Sabet, an education official in the northeastern province of Razavi Khorasan. “The lack of balance between teachers’ salaries and the salaries of employees of other departments is another concern for the teaching society. Teachers only want to be seen as employees of other ministries when it comes to finance and livelihoods, ”he added.

According to recent studies, employees of the Ministry of Agriculture, health workers and teachers are paid a minimum wage. Among the employees mentioned, teachers’ salaries are 30 to 40 percent lower than those of others. In addition, they do not earn privileges and bonuses.

“Privileges and bonuses could ease the burden on teachers in the face of skyrocketing inflation. They have been confronted with injustices over the past decades, ”said Pour-Sabet.

The other request from teachers is the implementation of the “classification plan”, to which the Ministry of Education has yet to respond despite frequent protests from teachers across the country.

“Officials still blame budget deficits,” Pour-Sabet said. However, the government refused to pay the arrears and other economic demands on the pretext of the high number of demands.

This is when the country suffers from a shortage of teachers, educators and trainers. According to official reports, the Ministry of Education lacks around 200,000 teachers to cover all schools in Iran with a curriculum. In this context, observers predict a great crisis in the most important ministry of the country. “Since 2018, 40,000 teachers retire on average each year. However, there are no suitable people to replace them, ”they say.

Nonetheless, the Iranian education system faces huge dilemmas, and the government is trying to solve them at the expense of teachers. Therefore, teachers – and of course students – are the sole victims of the education mafia in the country.

Through peaceful protests, teachers have fought for their basic rights in recent months. However, the government, which only understands the language of power, has yet to respond to the demands of these altruistic people. Such behavior prompts teachers to find other avenues – probably acts of protest – to force officials to acknowledge their demands.

“Imprisoned teachers must be released”, “Teachers will not give in to disgrace” and “We never go to classrooms until we have obtained our rights”, chanted by teachers to show that their patience is finished and look for other ways to win their claims.

Janice G. Ball