Iran: Education International Calls for Protest Against Sentence of Teacher Unionist

Following the arrest and six year jail sentence handed to Mr. Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Tehran Teacher Trade Association, Education International (EI) has called on its members to protest against the decision. Mr Abdi was sentenced on 7th October by Branch 36 of the Appeal Court of Tehran.

Education International has asked all member associations and individual affiliates to use the LabourStart appeal to challenge the authorities.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has reported that the EI has informed the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the charges, including one for “assembling and colluding against national security”, are unfair. EI say that the charges violate several human right conventions, including those protecting freedom of expression and association, and of course the right of unions to be consulted on education policies.

In July 2015, Mr. Abdi and three other Iranian teacher unionists were unfairly detained so that they could not participate in the 7th World Congress of Education International in Ottawa, Canada. Mr. Abdi was released in May 2016 following a huge solidarity campaign with participants from all over in Iran and across the world. He also partook in a hunger strike.

The NCRI say: “This latest re-sentencing comes at a time when the regime’s neoliberal policies have created a crisis in the country’s educational system and for teachers’ living conditions. The privatisation and commodification of education have destroyed any remnants of equal opportunity or free education in Iran. Many students, especially girls, from low income families in rural and nomadic areas are practically banned from accessing education, with reports showing that over 3.5 million students are unable to attend school.”

They also point out that the wages of teachers are often below the poverty line, yet they continue to teach. Nationwide protests and strikes show, however, that they have strong demands for change. Approximately 150,000 highly skilled Iranians emigrate every year – not just because of the high unemployment rate in Iran, but also because of political oppression and the lack of religious freedom. Teachers’ grievances are silenced by authorities through repression and “extended incarceration of unionists and activists,” said the NCRI.…

Iran: Schoolgirls Flogged for Failing to Pay Fees to Principal

On October 12, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reports a shocking measure.  In Mokhtarabad village in South Roodbar, school authorities gave at least eight lashes of the whip to 10 schoolgirls, and expelled them from school, because their parents did not pay 30,000 toumans (approx. $8.5) to the school’s principal, in an attempt to  force impoverished families to pay money demanded by the school.

Officials of the regime in the Education Department also threatened the students’ families with permanent expulsion of their children if they do not deny the flogging of the students, after news of the inhuman flogging became widespread.

The Ministry of Education extorts money from the students’ parents in different ways, such as such as demanding compensation for the stationary expenses, the cost of taking census, or giving a gift to school. This pressure on the students and their families leads to tragic consequences, especially in deprived regions where the students quit school or, in tragic cases, commit suicide. For example, in November 2015, a 12 year old, in sixth grade, in Oshnavieh, West Azerbaijan Province, committed suicide because he could not pay to give a gift to the school.

The chairwoman of the Education Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran strongly denounced this measure. She said, “The mullahs’ inhuman regime is inherently criminal and thrives on torture and flogging. Moderation of the religious fascism ruling Iran is a mirage when it spends billions of dollars of the Iranian people’s assets on export of war and terrorism to the region and carnage of defenseless children and women in Syria and particularly in Aleppo. Inside Iran, it does not have any qualm in plundering people even by whipping the delicate bodies of girl children.”

“So long as the Velayat-e Faqih regime is in power, the Iranian children will live in poverty and destitution, suffer from various deprivations and they will be suppressed and tortured. The only cure for these pains is the unity and solidarity of all strata of the nation to overthrow the mullahs’ religious tyranny and establish freedom and democracy in Iran,” stated the Education Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. 

Elsewhere, according to the NCRIafter to widespread coverage on social networks of the flogging of the schoolgirls in central Iran province, as well as the revelations of the Iranian regime’s repressive measures against the students, regime officials of the Ministry of Education threatened students and their families that unless they deny the flogging news, the children will be permanently expelled from school,This intimidation caused some of them to deny their previous allegations.

“In an inhuman act by the clerical regime ruling Iran, the principal of a school in a village in Kerman province (southern Iran) flogged a number of students because of their parents inability to pay 300 thousands rials (~$10) tuition fee and expelled them from the school,” was the news heard throughout Iran on October 9.

Tabnak website, run by the state, reported, “There are schools across the country where school officials severely punish the students for their inability to pay tuition fee. For example, the principal of a school in ‘Mokhtar Abad’ village in ‘Roudbar Jonoub (South Roudbar)’ county in Kerman province flogged the students for the ‘crime!’ of poverty and expelled them from school.”

“After reminding the students several times to pay 300,000 rials to help the school and the students’ inability to pay [extortion] money, the school principal ‘M.M.’ punished the students who were unable to pay the tuition fee by flogging them 8 times and expelling them from the school,” the state-run news agency wrote.

Confirming that their children were “punished”, some of the families “protested against the pressure imposed by the schools to receive money.” These parents said that their “poor economic condition does not allow them to help schools meet the costs.”

A video clip published on the internet on October 8, shows several schoolgirls, who first introduce themselves, and then reveal that they were “flogged” by the school principal.

Families of students who do not have money to buy stationery and school supplies for their children are forced to sell their household or borrow money to provide the 300 thousand rials to the school principal,according to state-run media.  The unprecedented flogging of students whose parents are financially unable pay “tuition fee” money, is inhuman treatment unseen anywhere else in the world.

Undisclosed Careers

Nancy Drew. Sherlock Holmes. Magnum P.I. These are the television characters that I was fascinated with growing up. I was intrigued by the way they solved mysteries and contemplated becoming a private investigator at one point because I felt it would be an exciting job to have. If you have a love for mysteries and consider yourself to be somewhat of a sleuth, then there are several undisclosed careers to choose from.

Criminal justice is the study of the causes, consequences and control of crime. Like other new and developing fields, criminal justice draws from a number of different disciplines, including psychology, public administration, philosophy, political science, sociology and law.

Private Investigator

A criminal justice degree is well-suited to someone who might like to work as a private investigator.

They may work for individuals or businesses to find and uncover information. Typically it relates to information about financials, personal matters or legal matters. There are many specialties that a private investigator can pursue including that of a computer forensic investigator, legal investigator, corporate investigator and financial investigator.

Some private investigators have years of police experience and take that experience to retail stores and hotels where they help with loss prevention from shoplifters, employee theft, and vendor theft.

Depending on the specialty one is interested in, while there is no formal education requirement for a general private detective, those aspiring to work in a more specialized field have pursued postsecondary degrees in the related field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to increase by 22 percent for the 2008-2018 decade. This is attributed to increased demand for identity theft, security concerns, increased lawsuits and litigation, and employee background checks plus the proliferation of financial fraud activities and corporate espionage.

The median wage of a salaried private detective and investigator was $41,760 in May 2008 with the highest ten percent earning more than $76,640.

Secret Service

The United States Secret Service is one of the nation’s oldest federal investigative law enforcement agencies. Those who are part of the Secret Service primarily provide protection for the president and vice president of the Untied States, their families, former presidents and visiting heads of states and governments.

We have all seen the dark suit and sun glassed agents whenever the President or other high level government official makes a public appearance. But did you know that they are also responsible for investigating crimes against our financial infrastructure. In fact, the original purpose of this agency was to combat counterfeiting of U.S. currency which was an enormous problem after the Civil War.

To apply, you will need to have a four year college degree or a combination of education and criminal investigative experience, be in good physical condition and have no criminal record. All new agents attend an 11 week training course followed by an additional 16 weeks of training in Washington, D.C. for all agents and officers.

The median salary for a secret service agent depends on the grade level they are hired at. Most start at the GL-7 or GL-9 level which has an average starting salary of $43,964- $74,891.

Undercover Officer

For police officers who thrive on the risk of the job, one of the more dangerous roles is that of an undercover officer. In this position, the primary responsibility is to obtain enough information that will lead to prosecution. This may involve drugs, contraband or a crime ring and other illicit activities.

Some operations may last three months; others years depending on the scope of the criminal activity and the safety of the undercover officer. Many undercover officers have worked in the police field and movie into this role with on-the-job training and perhaps courses in criminal law and procedure.

Many undercover officers are selected because they have a certain look or fit the mold of the specific assignment which may require an ethnic looking agent, female agent or someone with foreign language skills. The more civilian looking may be the better as undercover agents who act and look too much like a police officer may not be able to infiltrate a drug or crime ring in a convincing manner.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not separate out employment projections for this specific job as undercover officers are typically selected from current police officers or new recruits, the overall employment of police and detectives is expected to grow 10 percent over the 2008–18 decade.

According to, the average salary of an undercover police officer is $41,000. Average undercover police officer salaries can vary greatly due to company, location, industry, experience and benefits.

These are some of the specializations that individuals interested in an undercover role may pursue.…

For the Times, They are a Changing

“For the times, they are a changing.” This Bob Dylan song title is only meant to reflect how quickly our times have changed with the advent of technology and a global economy. Jobs that existed for decades have become obsolete. But in its place, new jobs have been created as have new opportunities.

It is important to note that there are successful companies that started in uncertain times. In fact, some of the best ideas for a company often arise out of a bad economy. Some of the most successful companies have been started during economic downturns. Examples include Hewlett-Packard, which was started in a garage during the economic downturn of 1939, Microsoft, founded during the recession in mid-1970, Apple Computer in 1976 and Cisco, which was started in 1983 in the living room of Len Bosack and Sandra Lerner.

Uncertain times can refer to today’s business climate or it can be more personal and refer to your own specific uncertainty. Take the company I work for. When the owner started it, he had just left one of the largest internet companies after they decided to shutter their regional offices. Definitely a period of uncertain times. But, with a generous exit package, he decided to take that money and invest it in starting his own company. He recognized a need within the internet advertising industry and felt with his experience, he could potentially tap into the early stages of this potentially growing field. Fast forward eight years later and the company employs over 300 individuals.

That is the true American dream. It is often stated that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Expected to play an even more important role in our nation’s economic future, small businesses, those employing fewer than 500 employees, create jobs which in turn stimulates our economic growth. They bring innovation to our marketplace by bringing new products to the market and providing valuable services.

So much so that on September 27, 2010, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act. Some of the provisions are extensions or increases in small business benefits that had been previously signed. But there are other newer aspects to this act as well including a $30 Billion Small Business Lending Fund: The bill would establish a new $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund which – by providing capital to small banks with incentives to increase small business lending – could support several multiples of that amount in new credit.

Another aspect to this Act is an initiative to strengthen innovative state small business programs. The bill will support at least $15 billion in small business lending through a new State Small Business Credit Initiative, strengthening state small business programs that leverage private-sector lenders to extend additional credit – many of which have been forced to cut back due to budget cuts.

For individuals who were employed through large companies and may have experienced a layoff, perhaps the time is right to take your experience and knowledge and start your own company. The key is to be able to identify what the market is looking for and find a way to meet those needs. There is nothing wrong with starting a business in your own home to keep expenses at a minimal. But do your research. Talk with others in the field. Attend trade shows and find a mentor.

Additionally, make certain you educate yourself on how to run a business. When the owner of our company started, his background was purely sales and marketing. An intelligent man in his own right, he had no idea that he would need to learn and understand payroll, tax laws, human resources, legal matters and insurance. He knew sales forecasting and certainly was familiar with contracts but as the company grew, he was faced with having to spend a lot of time learning these other areas relating to business.

An understanding of a broad range of disciplines is often necessary if one is to succeed in running a business. It is for this very reason that getting a bachelor’s in business or even a bachelor’s in entrepreneurship, followed by an MBA program, may be just what you need. An MBA teaches many different business skills including:

The bottom line is that anyone can turn a tough situation into something positive. We live in a time where change is happening at lightening speed. And while it is daunting to see jobs becoming obsolete, it is equally as exciting to see some of the new jobs being created. Our country is often referred to as the Land of Opportunity for good reason. “For the times they are a changing, “so why not look at change as something good?…


World insight: Iran after the sanctions, and what it means for higher education

Iran is preparing for take-off. At least this is how The Economist concluded a recent analysis of investment opportunities in the country.

Judging from media coverage such as this, and the flurry of diplomatic activity in Tehran, the decision by Iran to roll back its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions has already triggered a gold rush.

International companies are gearing up to take advantage of one of the biggest consumer markets in West Asia and North Africa.

After all, despite decades of sanctions, Iran remains the 18th largest economy in the world and it boasts one of the region’s most highly educated middle classes. Undoubtedly, the reintegration of the country into the world economy is likely to have a significant impact on the country’s higher education sector, too — Iranian students expect to benefit from new opportunities both within the country and beyond.

Since the revolution of 1979, successive Iranian governments have expanded the higher education sector in the country. According to the latest statistics, Iran has approximately 4.5 million students, of which 60 per cent are women.

Data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) indicate that enrolment at Iranian universities has more than doubled in a decade. In 2013, 58 per cent of Iranians aged 18 to 24 were studying at Iranian universities. The government has set the target at 60 per cent for 2025, and it is on track to reach this goal. Overall, Iranian parents spend more than £2.1 billion on the higher education of their children. With the lifting of sanctions, this financial commitment is likely to increase significantly, given the importance that Iranians ascribe to education.

Read the full article here..…

Can We Fix our Education System?

At a recent education event, President Obama stated “Not long ago you could drop out of high school and reasonably expect to find a blue-collar job that would pay the bills and help support your family.  That’s just not the case anymore.” Ironically, a recent documentary titled “Race to Nowhere” addressed the pressure we are putting on kids today to excel in school. It is truly a challenge to find a way to fix our education system as we not only watch a 68.8% graduation rate on a national average according to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center but high achieving students on the brink of burnout.

This particular film “features the stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren’t developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what’s best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.”

It is certainly a top issue in today’s political arena. My belief is that we must find a balance between those teetering on dropping out with no concrete plans for their future and those that are under enormous pressure to take on classes that may lead to burnout, depression and illness. An example is the recent registration for my daughter who will be entering high school. She was offered AP classes as a freshman as well as upper level classes.

We discussed this at great length and came to the conclusion that she could bypass taking an AP class as a freshman and concentrate on the transition to high school and succeeding in her honors classes. It is a similar path her older sister took, who when she was a freshman, was not allowed to take AP classes. She did well in high school and was admitted to a top state college. Of course, with the changes in classes offered to freshman, I can only hope this approach will allow my younger daughter the same opportunity to be admitted to this same college. Frankly I do not know but what I am certain of is that there are other colleges that will consider her academic achievements without the undue pressure of taking a college level course at 14 years old.

There is no question about the importance of receiving a quality education and the economic impact on our country from high school drop outs. At the same time, we must recognize that there is no “one size fits all” approach that works. From national television talk show personalities to our government leaders, many are weighing in on what is the best way to fix our education system.

Here I offer some suggestions:

Offer Alternative Education Tracks

Traditional schools are not working for everyone. Once we accept this statement then we can work on a fix. I believe, barring any major learning disability or illness, that students display aptitude and skills in specific areas. I witnessed this firsthand when my daughter was in first grade. She had a young boy who the teacher just did not like. The teacher found him to be disruptive and unfocused. As a parent volunteer, I found him to have a natural ability in the arts. His drawings were far above a first grade level and he had already mastered almost perfect cursive penmanship. But the teacher berated him on an almost daily basis and continually embarrassed him in front of his peers. I don’t know what became of him ten years later but what I do know is that if he had perhaps been put on a creative track, his confidence level and perhaps a future career may have been mapped out early.

We must find a way to offer students who are underperforming in a traditional classroom setting and offer them an alternative education track. We have under enrolled schools that could potentially offer various education tracks. Sure, there are some magnet programs currently out there but we need more. By engaging these students at a young age and embracing their strengths, not only are we building the foundation for a strong future for them, but also reducing the risk of them dropping out due to constant criticism of what they are not doing.

Offer Real Life Skills Classes

Students today have a somewhat pie-in-the-sky view of what real life is like. They aren’t necessarily thinking about paying for shelter, food, transportation, health costs, and clothing or even basic money lessons. One of the most valuable field trips my middle-school age child went on was called “JA Finance Park.”

JA Finance Park is a month-long economics education program that introduces personal financial planning and career exploration. It is taught to middle grade and high school students by classroom teachers. At the end of this program, students visit JA Finance Park to put into practice what they’ve learned about economic options and the principles of budgeting. Assisted by their teachers and a staff of trained volunteers, they have the opportunity to actually develop and commit to a personal budget.

And while I know many of the students found it to be a little on the boring side, many more were unhappy with the careers assigned to them, including my daughter. She had a job where she made an annual salary of $21K. She quickly realized that after paying for the basics, she had little left over for entertainment (movies, dining out) or for splurging on a new outfit. And while perhaps 8 th grade may have been a little young for her to fully grasp the concepts taught, based on conversations we have had since then, she has a really good basic understanding of finances and how the economy works. She also knows that she wants a job that will pay more than $21K a year and recognizes that the primary way to secure a strong job in the future will be to earn a college degree.

These little life skills should be taught in high school. Some may argue that it is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children about finances and in a perfect world, it would be. But we do not live in a perfect world and many students are not being taught about finances and how real life works. They don’t know anything about checking and savings accounts, the cost of putting food on a table or getting to work.

If we start teaching our student’s the skills they need to succeed in the real world in high school, then perhaps we will be raising a generation that understands personal responsibility and accountability.

Keep the Good Teachers

Again, this is only my personal opinion but an issue I feel very strongly about. I recently read in our newspaper that 1400 first and second year teachers would be losing their jobs. Some will be hired back for the fall, but my guess is many more won’t. What is mind-boggling to me is that they are losing their jobs to mediocre teachers. We’ve all heard about these teachers or even seen them in action. They don’t enjoy their jobs, they don’t even like kids and many more don’t even know how to relate or engage them.

At my job, I get to keep it if I am performing up to the outlined expectations. If I deviate or do not fulfill my responsibilities, then I risk losing my job. There is no seniority or protection. I am not sure how we got to a place where a poor performing professional kept their job because they had been there for many, many years.

There is a risk in what I write because many teachers do not believe they should be judged on merit alone. Certainly I recognize that no matter how much effort a teacher makes, there will be students who do not succeed but those are isolated cases. If you take into consideration a teacher’s entire student body and measure them on parent and student feedback and performance, then I do not believe the good teachers need to worry.

Perhaps the ones that are screaming the loudest are the ones that deep down know they are not the school’s strongest teachers.

The bottom line is that our education system needs fixing. Past models do not work in today’s environment. We must find a way to create a future generation that can succeed, not just financially, but personally so that we reduce the economic impact of having students fall between the cracks.…