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Iranian Lecturers Protest Shi'ite Scholars Teaching Persian Language

An Iranian cleric student looks at the courtyard of Faiziyeh religious school in Iran's clerical capital Qom, 120 kms south of Tehran, 18 May 2005.

The professors of the Iranian Association of Persian Language and Literature have lambasted Iran's Ministry of Education (MoE) for employing Twelver-Shi'ite seminary scholars to teach Persian in schools across Iran.

Based on MoE's new guidelines, the second and third grade seminaries' graduates are officially qualified to teach Persian in Iranian high schools, meaning the MoE has recognized the second and third grade seminaries' graduates as qualified as the universities' BA and MA graduates.

In a statement published on its website, the association has called on the MoE to revoke the decision immediately.

The decision moves to destroy the methodical and specialized teaching of Persian language in the country's schools, the statement says, and leaves not a glimmer of hope for the numerous oppressed university graduates of the Iranian language.

To become a Persian literature teacher in Iranian high schools, a Master graduate of Persian literature must pass 200 related courses and write a dissertation. At the same time, holders of seminary degrees receive their equivalent credits solely based on religious education.

This is the second year that the Twelver-Shi'ite clerics can also compete in public employment tests and apply for a high school teaching job.

Cooperation between the MoE and Shi'ite seminaries has significantly increased since the passage of the national "Document on Fundamental Transformation of Education."

With Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's blessing, the country's Supreme Cultural Council endorsed the document during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency.

Khamenei hopes the so-called national document can replace the UNESCO 2030 Education Agenda.

"The UNESCO 2030 Education Agenda and the like are not issues that the Islamic Republic of Iran could surrender and submit to," Khamenei said in his address to a group of teachers, education specialists and university students on the occasion of the National Teachers' Day in May 2017.

"This is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in this country, Islam and the Quran are the base. It is not a place for infiltration of the flawed, devastating, and corrupt Western lifestyle," Khamenei said.

A month later, in a session chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution announced that any educational document other than the country's homegrown initiatives would be declared null and void.

The national "Document on Fundamental Transformation of Education" outlines seven direct and 93 indirect tactics for expanding cooperation between the Twelver-Shi'ite seminaries and educational departments in Iran, a member of Seminary-Education Cooperation Headquarters said last month.