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Big lessons from the world’s smallest school

From 7am, Monday to Thursday Hosseien (11), Parisa (9), and Mahdi (8) walk the short distance to their school situated on the east coast of Iran in the tiny fishing village called Kaloo, population 30.

The tiny fishing village of Kaloo is not just small by population it is also small enough to be missed by the naked eye as well as by Google Earth. 70Miles south of the town of Bushehr where CNN likes to point out, Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power planet.

Set 10 metres back from the Persian gulf the school lies behind a row of palms trees a calm coastal breeze bathed in the morning sun and a mountainous backdrop. Picturesque location aside this school is no ordinary school in a country more synonymous by its politics rather than education. The short walk to school taken by Kaloo’s 3 students, rather than the 15 mile walk they use to undertake each morning in the neighbouring town of Dayyer, was made possible by one very dedicated young man. Their teacher 22 year old Adul Mohamad Sherani.

In early 2008 as part of his national service Mohamad decided to act upon his dream of being a teacher. And without doubt he went about achieving his big dream on the smallest scale imaginable. Deciding to set up his own school rather than help out at the larger state school Mohamad lives his idea of making a real difference tuning his classroom, disused storage building, into a lesson itself for his young students hopes for the future.

Full of energy in an experiment with the internet Mohamad utilised his computer and writing skills to create an award winning web blog about his life as a solider teacher. Through Mohammed’s documentation of the school Kaloo became known to the Iranian public as well as being accessible to many in the world via his blog. His blog’s English version, translated by an Australian friend gained the attention of UNESCO who later declared the school as ‘the smallest school in the world’.

With the UNESCO title and media attention in Iran the story of the smallest school in the world spread to a report on the American news channel CNN. Mohammad, Hossein, Parisa and Mahdi received letters, teaching aids, chocolates and text books from all over the world and even saw the Iranian minister of education donated his own personal computer from his office as a gift to the ever increasing fame of the school in the quiet fishing village.

Just as they thought they had had their lot a private sponsor from Bushehr had put forward the money for a new building which is currently being built a few metres away from the existing 3 metre x 4 metre class room.

Indebted to the donations the school was receiving from around the world and his country Muhammad continues to update his blog;, daily… writing updates on school life and the schools gratitude to the kindness of the worlds people.

Asked what Mohamad would like to do after his 2 years national service he replied…’i’d like to reach out to help my home towns (Dayyer) community as far as I can for the good of the people, improving the education of the people’.

Continuing to unearth the desire of this young entrepreneurial soldier I asked what the importance of teaching was for him …’The importance for me is that the students grow up well equipped for this breathing Iran that they will live in…its vital that they have a good understanding of modern technology even in a small fishing village such as this…from that basis they can form their own opinion and education of Iran, themselves and the world’.

Talking with Hoessin Fakhee a local journalist, social documentary photographer and Mohamed’s translator it is plain to see that Iranians are well aware of their government and what the outside world thinks of them…words of change are said but as a priority for people here it is not so much a question to seek change but rather an answer to show their country in a true light.

Further conversations with an Iranian Physiologist who would prefer to remain anonymous, reveals an Iran with a deep carpeted threaded of culture scared by revolution in the 1970s home to large numbers of Afgan’s, Kurdish and Iraqi refugees confused by their presidents (Mahmood Ahmadi Nejad) desire to be a world super power at the expensive of the people’s rights.

‘The physiology of Iran and Iranians is that we are good people…if there is a problem then Iran needs Iranians to sort it out, no one else…you can breath in the life that Iranians lead we are an open people who breath thus Iran needs to breath too’- Iranian Physiologist

So today from a small fishing village in Kaloo I have learnt that Iranians are a people of great faith, a great faith in many things more than religion and politics. A faith which I believe is not often shown in many countries media. Iran has a face and a heart with the need to breath. The face being the image of terrorism that has become an easy story to tell and the heart being the desire by the Iranian people to tell the world that politics and people are very different things.

This is the big lesson that the smallest school in the world has to teach us.

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