DAMASCUS (10:10 AM) – Senior education officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran have moved to ban English from the curriculum in kindergarten and primary schools, in an apparent campaign against what is deemed “cultural invasion” of Iran by Western imperialist powers. Under the new education regulations, English will still continued to be taught in secondary schools and higher.
“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” leader of the High Education Council, Mehdi Navid-Adham was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid.”
English is not one of the sixteen officially recognized languages in Iran, but nevertheless some private education institutions over the years have opted to teach primary school pupils the English language, sometimes even using it as lingua franca in the school.
In 2016, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei already voiced concerns about the matter, after reports surfaced that even some daycare centers were teaching English rather than Persian or Arabic.
“That does not mean (we are in ) 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,” the Ayatollah said.
“Western thinkers have time and again said that instead of colonialist expansionism of the 19th century, the best and the least costly way would have been inculcation of thought and culture to the younger generation of countries and training experts and elites that would act like soldiers of the system of dominance.”
The Iranian fear of foreign powers using culture and language as means to exercise control over Iran is grounded in a long history of opposition to imperialism. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 was partially caused by a growing dissatisfaction to what many saw as gharbzadegi”, which is usually translated as “westoxification” or “occidentosis”: the loss of Iranian national and cultural identity and the gradual degradation of then imperial Iran into a passive pawn in the hands of the West.