Iran bans teaching of English in primary schools

by WorldTribune Staff, January 8, 2018

English instruction has been banned in Iran’s primary schools after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said teaching the language is tantamount to Western “cultural invasion.”

English-language teaching in Iran usually begins in middle school, but some primary schools with younger pupils also offer English classes. / IRNA

“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” said Mehdi Navid-Adham, the head of the state-run High Education Council. “In primary schools, the foundations should be laid to promote Farsi and Iranian culture.”

Several teachers in the Islamic Republic warned the ban will hold back educational progress in the country.

“This shows our education ministry officials are disconnected from the society,” said Fatemeh, a teacher at elementary school in Qarchak, a  town southeast of Teheran.

“Many private schools are competing with each other over their English classes and work on it as one of their competitive advantages,” another teacher said. “This policy, if implemented, will affect lots of schools and families.”

The ban comes amid nationwide anti-government protests.

“The ban on English teaching might not be related to the protests, but it can spread despair in the country,” said a reformist politician. “It is not even do-able, with [many] families prioritizing English in their children’s education.”

In 2016, Khamenei said that the West was using English instruction to subvert Iranian authority.

“Western thinkers have time and again said that instead of colonialist expansionism the best and the least costly way would have been inculcation of thought and culture to the younger generation of countries,” the supreme leader said.

Other languages have also been targeted in Iran. Last year, Iran’s intelligence agency banned publication of a Kurdish-language instruction book, titled Reading and Writing Kurdish Kurmanji.

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