Iran Outlaws English Lessons in Primary Schools

Iran’s supreme leader has criticised foreign influence through languages in the past

Iran’s supreme leader has criticised foreign influence through languages in the past

"In primary schools, the foundations should be laid to promote Farsi and Iranian culture", said Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the council, in a television interview on Saturday.

Iran's Education Ministry secretary told state media that the ministry "envisages strengthening Persian language skills and Iranian Islamic culture of pupils at the primary school stage".

Iran's Deputy Education Minister Rezwan Hakimzade confirmed the ban, saying "this issue is not a new, and according to the approved curriculum, the teaching of the English language doesn't begin in primary schools", Iran's Tabnak news website reported.

Children start learning English in middle school in Iran when they are about 12-14 years old.

Iran's Islamic leaders have often warned about the dangers of a "cultural invasion," and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced outrage in 2016 over the "teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools".

In a speech to educators, he said that "does not mean opposition to learning a foreign language, but [this is the] promotion of a foreign culture in the country and among children, young adults, and youths".

Some children from more privileged families receive tuition at private language institutes after school, while those attending non-government schools receive English lessons from daycare through high school. Spanish, French and German could also be taught, he said, while insisting he did not mean to "stop teaching English at schools tomorrow". He added that it would now be against the law to teach English at the primary school level, either during or outside of normal school hours. In 2017, Iran's intelligence agency banned publication of a Kurdish-language instruction book, titled Reading and Writing Kurdish Kurmanji.

Though there was no mention of protests in the English ban, Khamenei has also recently blasted foreign influence that he said was behind an anti-government movement that was the biggest the country had seen since 2009.

On January 5, four special rapporteurs from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Iranian government to respect the rights of protesters and end its blocking of the internet. A number of Iranians have jokingly called it "The filtering of English". The story also includes information from The Washington Post newspaper and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.