Iran Holds ‘Afghanistanology’ Contest between Afghan Refugees

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Written By Hasan Rezazadeh

Iran’s Ministry of Education in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is holding official contests in order to encourage the second and third generations of Afghan refugees to come back their country.

According to Ahmad Shah Mardani, responsible for foreign nationals at Iran’s Education Ministry, the contests will be held in all provinces and cities of Iran. ‘Afghanistanology’ is the name of this contest which encourages Afghan students to study about the history of their original country, Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistanology contest, we ask students to research about the history of Afghanistan. Students are asked to write their own articles and send them for Ministry of Education. We have set special prizes for selected entries.” Ahmad Shah Mardani told Pars Herald on Saturday.

Currently thousands of Afghan students are studying in Iranian schools for free. UNHCR has repeatedly paid tribute to Islamic Republic for supporting and teaching the refugees’ children in local schools. Base on surveys, Afghan students are not being discriminated by Iranian teachers and they receive equal support from their instructors.

According to 2010 census, Iran is the home of more than 930,000 Afghan refugees who fled Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war. However, they cannot obtain Iranian citizenship or permanent residency, and live in Iran under time-limited condition of stay.

In general, Afghans have satisfactory conditions in Iran. But the current Iranian government under President Ahmadinejad has been less receptive toward them in recent years. About 100,000 Afghans were forcibly deported in 2007.