Destruction in Homs city, Syria. (Reuters)

January 24, 2020

The Islamic Republic Minister of Education’s comments on Tehran helping to reconstruct Syrian schools destroyed in the war-torn country has triggered a widespread negative response on Iranian social media.

The Minister, Mohsen Haji Mirzaei, who arrived last Tuesday for an official three-day visit in Damascus, said that Iran is prepared to build thousands of schools in Syria.

“Iran-Syria cooperation in the educational sector will lead to the formation of a common culture between the two nations,” Haj Mirzaei said.

The Minister’s comments are published at a time that hardly a day goes by in Iran without local media reporting on the poor condition of schools across the country.

The reports on dilapidated schools and the collapse of their roofs have been quite rife in recent years in Iran.

A day before Hajmirzaei left Tehran for Damascus, Iranian news website, Tasnim, reported that children in flood-stricken Baluchestan province, southeast Iran, are forced to go to classes held in dilapidated schools and containers, risking their lives.

The video in this tweet shows the dilapidated state of a school in Sistan-Baluchistan. The tweet asks why the government wants to fix schools in Syria, if Iran needs help.

Following the recent floods in the Dashtyari region, Iranian Baluchestan, local school children should walk miles and miles in the mud to reach their unsafe and life-threatening schools.

More than 340 schools have been damaged in the recent floods in Baluchestan, and are currently out of order, needing essential repairs, Tasnim cited the head of Iran’s Organization for Development, Renovation and Equipping of Schools (DRES), Mehrollah Rakhshani.

Implicitly admitting that the government was not capable of reconstructing the derelict schools, Rakhshani called “charitable people” to step in and help to build new schools.

Two days earlier, Mayor of Tehran, Pirouz Hanachi, had admitted that 827 schools in the capital city are in a “red alert” situation, needing urgent renovation.

The chairman of City Council of Tehran, Mohsen Hashemi, also reported on the same day that there are 4,000 schools in the capital city, out of which 60% to 70% are in poor condition.

An Iranian rural school in the aftermath of floods in March 2019.
An Iranian rural school in the aftermath of floods in March 2019.

“The Islamic Republic government is struggling with a financial crisis, and, therefore, it has not invested enough in Tehran,” Hashemi regretfully complained.

In a tweet, Syrian Prime Minister, Imad Khamis affirmed that nearly 10,000 schools had been destroyed in the Syrian civil war, and Tehran was ready to help Damascus to reconstruct them.

In the meantime, Syrian and Russian air forces still keep bombing civilian targets, including schools in rebel-held Idlib province.

Iran got involved in the Syrian civil conflict as early as 2011, when it had not become a full-fledged war and helped the Assad government against the insurgency of a large number of Syrians. As the conflict turned into a full-fledged war, Iran sent troops and proxy fighters, arguing that it was helping to stop jihadists.

In the meantime, Iran’s commitments in Syria are not limited to reconstructing its schools.

Last year, the Islamic Republic Ministry of Roads and Urban Development had announced that it would build 30,000 residential units in Syria.

Iranians have been enraged with their government’s costly efforts to provide military and other support for Syrians, Lebanese Hezbollah, and extremist Palestinians in Gaza.

One of the main slogans repeatedly chanted in the recent uprising against the clergy-dominated regime in Iran has been, “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon; I give my life for Iran.”

Radio Farda

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.