When challenges change to memories

“Winters in Kerman province are usually harsh and cold. Zahra* is happy because now she has enough money to send her two children to school and to buy two jackets and shoes with the remaining money,” says Melika, Norwegian Refugee Council's (NRC) education coordinator.

Summer in Kerman reaches between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. Winter, however, brings freezing temperatures where only warm clothes will do. This is what Zahra intends to buy for her children, aged 9 and 10, to keep them warm. 

Zahra’s husband has been away for more than a year now. She works as a cleaner in the mosques of the city where she lives, and she is the only one providing for her family. Sometimes paying bills can be challenging for a single mother who is very keen for her children to attend school.

“I was supposed to pay 5,800,000 IRR** contribution fees to my children’s school. I could only pay 1,000,000 IRR and promised the principal to pay the rest later, which I can do now” explains Zahra. 



Kerman province. Photo: NRC

In Iran, Afghan refugee children can enroll in public schools regardless of their legal status, thanks to a Decree from 2015. Around 700,000 Afghan students are currently enrolled in Iranian schools and local authorities are expecting this number to continue increasing

Providing cash assistance to the parents is just one of the activities NRC conducts to support the education of Afghan children in Iran. While education is free in the country, there are additional costs for things like coursebooks, transportation or clothes that Afghan parents cannot afford. Some schools ask for a “voluntary contribution” which most parents feel obliged to provide. 

With the cash assistance NRC is providing to Afghan refugees in Iran, in partnership with Education Above All’s Educate A Child programme, families can send their children to school and use the little money they earn to buy food and pay for other basic expenses. 

We also provide Afghan and Iranian children with stationery kits containing pencils, notebooks, a backpack, amongst other things. For a child with very scarce resources, having a backpack with stationery can make all the difference between attending school or not.

Photo: NRC

School principals also believe that new benches, equipment for science classes, and sports equipment provided to Iranian schools motivate students to continue their education or even return to school after having abandoned their studies.  

As the assistance is provided mostly to schools hosting a high number of Afghan students, it also helps with the integration of Afghan children into host communities. “When Iranian children see their schools looking new because of their Afghan friends, they become closer,” two school principals from Tehran and Kerman mentioned.

NRC in Iran 

Since 2012, NRC Iran has been assisting displaced Afghans in Iran as well as their Iranian host communities. We work to improve protection and access to basic humanitarian services across ten provinces (Alborz, Tehran, Yazd, South Khorasan, Hormozgan, Kerman, Razavi Khorazan, Marzaki, Semnan, and Sistan and Baluchestan).  

Since mid-2021, NRC Iran has scaled-up its work significantly in connection with recent developments in Afghanistan, while maintaining all existing programmes in Iran.

About NRC’s partnership with EAC 

NRC, in partnership with Education Above All’s Educate A Child programme, is also rehabilitating classrooms and toilets in schools. Through these interventions, we are aiming at minimising the risk of children abandoning their studies and encouraging those who had been forced to do so to rejoin schools, and take the catch-up classes provided. 

 * Indicates that name has been changed to respect the individual's wish for anonymity. 

** (exchange rate in January 2023: 430,000 Rials = 1 Euro)