Health and school preparedness screening for Afghan and Iranian children
"I want to go to school, study hard and become a good person... I love to go to school, to do sport, and become strong."
- 7-year-old Zeinab and her twin sister Zinat left Mazar Sharif in Afghanistan with their family and moved to Kerman, the capital city of Kerman Province in central Iran. Zeinab’s dream is to become a doctor.
The project in brief
The project was implemented by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in Iran. It began in 2022 and ended in 2023.
Annually, first-grade students must undergo a health screening for school registration, posing a financial barrier for disadvantaged children. In the 2022-2023 academic year, UNICEF covered health-screening costs for Afghan students in need, Nomads, and 50% of families in five disadvantaged provinces. This initiative significantly boosted first-grade enrollments. Consequently, in the 2023-2024 academic year, health screening fees were integrated into national programs, making them free for all children.
The Health Screening Programme is a mandatory school entrance test each child must take before enrolling in grade one school. Annually, more than one million children in Iran participate in this programme. However, there is a price tag attached to it, and despite being a small fee, it discourages mostly low-income parents from enrolling their children.
Main activities of the Good Practice
In 2022-2023, as part of a cooperation with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF covered the financial costs of the screening programme for Afghan refugee children, nomad children, and children in disadvantaged areas. As a result, 97,454 children, including 46,923 girls, benefited from free screening services. The results show that the supported provinces moved up in the ratings of coverage to the top 10 provinces. Moreover, UNICEF’s support for this programme and its significant impact on participation in the screening programme, also resulted in increased public financing for the screening programme for the future. A dedicated public budget line has been assigned to the screening programme, by the Planning and Budget Organization, which is evidence of the system’s ability to sustain the results achieved.
Leveraging a joint workplan with the Ministry of Education and close coordination with the Special Education Organization, UNICEF successfully executed this large-scale initiative targeting diverse groups of children in need.
- Ministry of Education
© UNICEF Iran/Sayyari/2022
Results of the Good Practice
A quality screening program is crucial for inclusive education. This intervention removed the price tag attached to it and encouraged the low-income families to enroll children in formal education.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
UNICEF’s support for this programme and its significant impact on participation in the screening programme, also resulted in increased public financing for the screening programme for the future. A dedicated public budget line has been assigned to the screening programme, by the Planning and Budget Organization, which is evidence of the system’s ability to sustain the results achieved.
Samira Faridmanesh, Emergency Specialist, UNICEF