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Science and Art Foundation's wonderful work in Bam

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

Photos courtesy of SAF Tehran Office



Many readers are familiar with Science and Art Foundation (SAF) wonderful works in Iran through my articles ( and others such as


The main goal of SAF is to empower Iranian youth through IT education and bring them into the realm of the 21st century.  I became familiar with SAF through its founder Professor Abbas Edalat in London and my friend Mojgan and Dr Tabesh at the SAF office in Tehran.  SAF has branches in many countries and has helped to truly advance computer usage and abilities in many schools all over Iran.   SAF is supported by previous and present students and professors of Tehran's Sharif University of Technology which is one of the most prestigious universities in Iran if not the Middle East.   SAF supports programs in 33 cities all over Iran and they have 150 computer sites at schools and universities.


Recently I had the pleasure to go to their new office near Sharif University with my husband Paul and once again I was amazed and flabbergasted by their enthusiasm and the efforts that this small NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) is doing in Iran.  There I met the present Managing Director Alireza, and his colleagues Afra and Saeed.



SAF was the main NGO that, after the Bam earthquake, made a major contribution in helping the children to overcome their trauma by coming to the IT center which was set up in couple of temporary buildings, or connexes.   I had missed visiting their field school and seeing the happy children learning, working and playing there when I went to Bam for the first time, but I did see the photographs.  I was delighted to learn that the SAF Bam ITC (Information and Communication Technology) resource center had officially opened last December and already they were making good use of it.  SAF's new project in Bam is to use this ITC resource center as part of a long term vision for Education Strategy for schools in Bam, by training trainers and thus truly empowering the locals for future needs. 

I would like to point out that the ITC Resource center was built with the support of Bam's Department of Education and financial contribution by CPC (Coalition of Persian Charities), Swiss Agency for Development & cooperation, other Iranian individuals and companies and SAF educational program partner UNICEF, under management of SAF.

In Bam, SAF has published a handbook for both primary and secondary schools based on the first Persian Linux operating system for children, called Sharif Linux which was designed by Farsi Web Company at Sharif University of Technology.  The SAF plan for Bam also includes establishing a central point for connecting educational institutions to the internet via wireless and eventually creating a virtual school.  This all sounded wonderful and below I invite you to read the story of this little miracle by SAF in Bam.




After the earthquake and Bam Schools reconstruction, UNICEF had donated a large number of computers to Bam which were not being properly used.  For example, last year, out of 60 schools with webcams only a few were in use.  SAF, because of their 3 years involvement in Bam, and 8 years experience in Iran the board decided to do something about it.  They visited these schools and talked to the teachers to find out why the computers were not being used.  Many complained truthfully that they did not know enough to work with them and can not afford to take any courses.  SAF decided to train the trainers and create a learning pyramid.  They proposed a sustainability model to UNICEF at 7 levels including Internet Infrastructure and content development for school teachers and students for the Bam virtual school and thus training the trainers.




The SAF local office, in cooperation with the local educational authorities, invited interested teachers from all Bam schools in order to train them.   About 200 came and were interviewed by the training staff.  65 of the teachers were chosen to undergo the training, which was supported by UNICEF Iran office.  You may be surprised to learn that out of the 65, 45 were women and 20 men.



The classes started on 16th December 2006 and they began to learn about Sharif Linux.  This is an open source operating system, which enables Persian speakers to use the net effectively, as all the menus and help are in Persian.



The course was most intense and everybody was working very hard after finishing school from 4:30 to 8:30 in the evening; even on Fridays they came to the Center.  In the first month all the selected teachers were taught the same syllabus.  Then they had a week off and when they came back they were divided into 3 groups depending on their marks.  These three divisions were specialized courses:

  1. ICT Specialist group - dealing with hardware, network, web design etc.
  2. IT teaching which involved being able to use software to create online courses at the virtual school
  3. Two levels of training for primary and middle schools 



Not more than one person from each school did the same specialist course.  The specialist courses also ran for a month and by late February, after 240 hours of training per person, they had finished their course and after Norouz the students were able to pass on what they had learnt to their own students.  For this purpose, SAF chose 6 schools out of the 45 there and set up a base which was directly connected to the internet, after SAF set up their wireless system.  Many of the students were able to join their teachers in this learning process.




I want to congratulate SAF once again for being the pioneer in the IT field and doing a great job, close to a miracle in Bam.  I am most anxious to go back there soon and visit the ITC centre and schools and see the result of all this effort by SAF with help of UNICEF.




For more news on SAF please check and also those of you who read Persian please check this

... Payvand News - 5/9/07 ...

... Payvand News - 5/9/07 ... --

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