In a virtual conference of representatives from Islamic countries on Thursday, Iran's Minister of Education blamed U.S. sanctions for shortages of online teaching tools during coronavirus lockdown.
Mohsen Haji-Mirzai told the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ISESCO ministers that the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States have limited the ability of the government to provide tablets and mobile phones to students and the country also faces difficulties in payment of subscription fees to international educational bodies.
The Iranian Minister of Education called on member countries to support Iran "against cruel sanctions and not to allow disruption of education as a basic human right in the Islamic Republic of Iran".
As the minister makes this claim, investments in Iran's schools have been lagging for a long time, with many buildings out of repairs and even dangerous for students.
The United States in May 2018 withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers and reintroduced sanctions on the country. The sanctions have crippled the Iranian economy and made trade with Iran very difficult for other countries. The United States is currently seeking to trigger a mechanism in the nuclear agreement that will snap back international sanctions on Iran.
Haji-Mirzai also told the ISESCO ministers that Iran is ready to share an online educational platform that it has developed with the other member countries. The interactive application called SHAD is being used alongside educational TV programs to teach students during coronavirus lockdown.
Schools and universities in Iran shut down in late February when the earliest cases of coronavirus were reported by the Health Ministry. According to the latest official announcement, there have been a total of nearly 117,000 cases and 6,920 deaths from COVID-19 in Iran so far. Several regions are currently turning into new hotspots of the epidemic in Iran despite a recent drop in the daily number of cases and deaths.
Ministers from 50 Islamic countries participated in the virtual conference of ISESCO dubbed 'Educational Systems in Face of Crises and Emergencies (COVID-19)'. ISESCO is a specialized organization that operates under the aegis of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).