Earlier this week, we heard about the case of an 11-year-old boy who died from suicide because he was unable to attend his school’s online learning due to not having an internet-enabled device.
Mohammad Mousavizadeh’s death is tragic and has deeply affected all who knew him in Bushehr, southwest Iran.
His mother, who works cleaning houses and cannot afford more than the basics, said: “We had a problem for two or three months. My son did not have a proper phone. The mobile phone he had was faulty. We did not have a good life. We were living in a rental home with an ailing husband. I have a few other children. Mohammad needed a mobile phone because the one we had did not work properly. He could not send audio or take photos with it. He did not say anything. His teacher asked him to send an audio file or send an image. We told his teacher what was going on. His teacher told him to go and tell (your problem to) your father, not me. This is our story.”
This is not the only sad case of a young person dying because they couldn’t access education.
A 14-year-old boy from Kermanshah, known only as Mani, died after falling down a mountain as he tried to escape security guards. He’d been working as a border porter, carrying heavy loads across treacherous mountain paths, to earn money to buy a smartphone so that he could continue his education. Porters are often pursued by the border agents.
Being unable to continue education during the pandemic because of a lack of appropriate resources is frankly commonplace and worst of all completely avoidable. Not only could the government have controlled the spread by instituting a proper lockdown from the start and paid non-essential workers to stay home, but they could also provide smartphones or laptops for every student forced to learn online and without the family, budget to buy one themselves.
The government even claimed that they would provide smartphones and internet for free to students, but they haven’t done so in the past seven months and the reality is that 36% of boys will probably have to drop out of school because of poverty.
As poverty is so widespread in Iran, tragically deaths from suicide in children are becoming increasingly common. Earlier this year, we heard the story of Armin, 12, whose family could not afford the hospital bills after his mother lost her fight with cancer, even with him working as a garbage sorter.
This poverty is not caused because of any fault of the people, but rather the system, with people barely able to make ends meet working three jobs. All while Iran wastes money on terrorism and warmongering.