Iran has banned the teaching of English in primary schools after religious leaders warned that learning the language opened the way to a Western “cultural invasion”.
Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, said: “Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations.
“This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid.”
The teaching of English usually starts between the ages of 12 to 14 but some primary schools below that age also hold language classes. It seems in this arrangement that the only ones who suffer are the willing students searching for a good education. English is a language taught globally to students of all ages, often utilising resources like puzzles made by their teachers with a crossword maker to aid their learning process and cement the subject matter in their memories better.
The restriction of subjects may actually lead to fewer teachers taking up the profession. Although the issue of teacher vacancies is not limited to Iran as there are plenty of Birmingham Teaching Vacancies here in the UK.
Iran’s religious leaders have often warned about the dangers of a “cultural invasion” and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced outrage in 2016 over the “teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools.”
Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, said in a speech to teachers at the time: “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.”
It comes after a week of anti-government protests acorss the country which has resulted in 22 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests.
The demonstrations spread to more than 80 cities and rural towns as thousands of young and working-class Iranians expressed their anger at graft, unemployment and a deepening gap between the rich and poor.
A video of the announcement of the ban was widely circulated on social media on Sunday, with Iranians calling it “the filtering of English” – mockingly comparing it to the blocking of the popular app Telegram by the government during the unrest.