Iranian authorities have banned the teaching of English in primary schools after Islamic leaders emphasized the warning that learning the English language at a young age opens the way to a Western “cultural invasion”.
On Saturday Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council broadcasted on tv
“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” told state television late on Saturday.
This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid. Non-curriculum English classes may also be banned.”
English is usually taught to School children in Iran from 12 to 14 but some primary schools start teaching before that.
More privileged children not attending government schools are taught English from daycare and through high school. Others attend private language institutes after their school day.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the Supreme Leader has voiced his disgust since 2016 “teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools”.
Khamenei, who is the final say, said in a speech to teachers: “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.”
Text from a speech of a site run by an arm of his office states “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.”
During a week of protests that spread to over 80 towns due to Iranians expressing their anger at graft, unemployment and a deepening ravine between the rich and the poor, 22 people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested according to Iranian officials. Though Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have said that that unrest was also induced by foreign enemies.
A video of the announcement of the ban has been circulating on social media. Iranians are calling it “The filtering of English”, jokingly likening to the blocking of the popular app Telegram by the government during the riots.