Iran’s ministry of education says 10 percent of the 116,000 people identified as illiterate in the last Tehran census are working children, adding that the actual number could be even higher.

The ministry also announced that it is implementing special programs to offer flexible school hours to working children between the ages of 10 and 20 so that class times can accommodate their schedules.

Hiring children under the age of 15 is illegal under Iranian labour legislation.

Reports indicate that a large portion of working children belong to immigrant families, especially Afghan immigrants, many of whom have no birth certificates, and without status in Iran, they are unable to attend school.