History of Education in Iran

History of education in Iran

History of Education in Iran 1

Achaemenid DynastyScholars have discovered documents from around 550 BC relating to an emphasis on education in ancient Persia (modern day Iran). The documents urged people to gain knowledge in order to better understand God and to live a life of prosperity. Religious schools were set up in limited areas to serve the government. Although the majority of the problems focused on religious studies, there were also lessons regarding administration, politics, technical skills, military, sports, and arts. The first higher education organization, Gundeshapur or Jondishapoor (which still exists) was formed during the Achaemenids period, around the 3rd century. Safavid DynastyThis dynasty marks the first of modern education in Iran. There was a mixed emphasis on Islamic values and scientific advancements. Muzaffari-EraFormed in 1898, the Educational Committee (Anjuman-i Ma'arf) was the first organized program to promote educational reform not funded by the state. The committee was composed of members of foreign services, ulama, wealthy merchants, physicians, and other prominent people. The conflicting interests of people involved led to difficulties enacting, however they did succeed in the opening of many new primary and secondary educational schools. It also created a public library, offered adult classes, published an official newspaper (Ruznamah-i Ma'arif), and established a printing company called The Book Printing Company (Shirkat-i Tab'-i Kitab). The Literacy Corps (1969-1979)The literacy corps took place over the White Revolution, which occurred under Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. It was believed by the government that the majority of the population was illiterate and the Literacy Corps was an attempt to change the statistics. The program included hiring young men who had a degree in secondary education to serve in the Literacy Corps, and involved teaching children between the ages of 6 and 12, and of which had not attended 2nd grade education, to read. The goal being to improve literacy in Iran in a cheap and efficient manner, which they also believed would improve workmanship. 200,000 young men and woman participated in the Literacy Corps, teaching 2.2 million boys and girls and over a million adults. In many cases, the volunteers would continue to work as educators after their conscription ended. Post-Islamic RevolutionAt first, post 1979 Islamic Revolution placed heavily emphasis on educational reforms. Politicians wanted Islamic values to be present within the schooling system as quickly as possible. However, pressures due to the Iran-Iraq War and economic disparities forced plans for education back as other issues took priority. However, there were some significant changes made. First, came Islamization of textbooks. The schools were then segregated regarding to the sex of the student. Observation of Islamic Law in the schools became mandated and religious ceremonies maintained. By the 1990s, more significant changes arose. The annual academic system switched to a system based on credits. So, for example, if a student were to fail a class, rather than repeating the whole year they simply would retake the credits. The mandatory duration of high school was shortened from four years to three, however the fourth year was still available as an option to bridge the gap between high school and university. Also, many technical and vocational programs were added to help train students for the workforce, which proved to be popular with students. Modern educationThe first Western-style public schools were established by Haji-Mirza Hassan Roshdieh. Amir Kabir (the Grand Minister) helped the first modern Iranian college establish in the mid-nineteenth century, and the first Iranian University modeled after European Universities established during the first Pahlavi period. There are both free public schools and private schools in Iran at all levels, from elementary school through university. Education in Iran is highly centralized. The Ministry of Education is in charge of educational planning, financing, administration, curriculum, and textbook development. Teacher training, grading, and examinations are also the responsibility of the Ministry. At the university level, however, every student attending public schools is required to commit to serve the government for a number of years typically equivalent to those spent at the university, or pay it off for a very low price (typically a few hundred dollars) or completely free if one can prove inability to pay to the Islamic government (Post secondary and university). During the early 1970s, efforts were made to improve the educational system by updating school curriculation, introducing modern textbooks, and training more efficient teachers. The 1979 revolution continued the country's emphasis on education with the new government putting its own stamp on the process. The most important change was the Islamization of the education system. All students were segregated by sex. In 1980, the Cultural Revolution Committee was formed to oversee the institution of Islamic values in education. An arm of the committee, the Center for Textbooks (composed mainly of clerics), produced 3,000 new college-level textbooks reflecting Islamic views by 1983. Teaching materials based on Islam were introduced into the primary grades within six months of the revolution.

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