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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 18:27 GMT
School Day 24: Iranians take part
Students in Iran, the UK and the US linked up on TV to share their experiences. The BBC's Frances Harrison, who hosted the debate at the Islamic Azad University in Iran, describes how the link-up went.

Iranian students

Iran has the sad distinction of being the only country in the School Day 24 project not to allow us to broadcast live.

The saga of our dealings with Iranian TV, which has a monopoly over all satellite dishes would fill a book. And though they say the reason is all their dishes are out of Tehran it is pretty clear there is political nervousness about allowing students to air their views live on international TV.

At 2100 local time the night before the broadcast we were told by the head of the satellite department that all the senior officials in Iranian TV were already asleep and he couldn't help us.

He agreed that it didn't look good for Iran but he didn't care enough to do anything about it.

By contrast the Islamic Azad University couldn't have been more helpful - they went beyond the call of duty and tried to help us get the satellite dish, pulling all the strings they could - in vain in the end.

Iran US UK map

They were professional and open minded - and left us alone to film the students, only appearing to offer tea and cakes and see if we needed anything.

For the students the most exciting thing was seeing the broadcast coming back on BBC World. Satellite TV is banned in Iran though everyone watches it at home.

The university didn't have a connection so earlier in the week we had to call our satellite man to install one.

Since he works mostly at night to avoid the authorities he overslept and turned up late. As he rolled up at the campus with the dish in the back of his car he suddenly got nervous - worried about whether he would get arrested for carting around an illegal dish and receiver.

As the first segment we'd filmed was broadcast about an hour later on BBC World the students stopped everything, rapt in front of the tiny TV in the university library.

It was an experience to see themselves come back on TV and they all cheered at the end and clapped.

I am glad they had fun.

At least the ones who got to say something on camera.

They worked in groups to figure out which subjects they would address and what each one would say in response to the questions from abroad.

There were a few unhappy people who didn't get to have their say - apologies to them.

One girl said they were really honoured to be part of the event.

And they are keen to hook up with students abroad - the ones who took part in School Day 24 as well as others around the world.

They're keen to develop contacts with people outside Iran and suggested anyone who is interested contacts them on the Yahoo! 360 site.


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