For the first time, Iranian authorities are seriously discussing the possibility of adding Chinese to the foreign languages taught in the nation's schools.
Acting Head of the Curriculum Planning Department of the Educational Research and Planning Organization of Iran, Ali Mohebbi, announced on Sunday, September 20, that Chinese and Arabic might be added to the list of foreign languages taught in schools.
Speaking to the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), Mohebbi noted that, based on the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution's resolutions, teaching English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian has already been approved as officially recognized in the national curriculum.
To avoid highlighting Arabic and Chinese, Mohebbi immediately said that "other foreign languages recognized as official and international languages, if there are any, will be seriously discussed to be added next year."
Iranian authorities previously expressed dissatisfaction with citizens' willingness to learn English. In 2016, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei harshly criticized the promotion of learning English in Iranian educational institutions. "Now, we have reached a point where teaching the English language is extended to kindergartens and daycares, as well," Khamenei said, warning about the designs of an "international hegemonic system" led by the United States, Israel, and other "hostile countries."
Khamenei added that Iran's enemies were plotting to change the nation's youth's culture into neither Islamic nor indigenous. To back up his claim, Khamenei raised the issue of promoting the English language in Iranian schools.
Currently, English is not in the official Iranian curriculum for six years of elementary school. However, various private, semi-public, and even a few public schools teach English as an extracurricular activity in non-mandatory classes
Immediately after Khamenei's remarks in 2016, the Ministry of Education banned English teaching in primary schools. Referring to Khamenei's dissatisfaction, 57 members of the Iranian Majlis Parliament presented a "single urgency motion" in September 2019 to remove English language lessons from all schools in Iran.
If approved, teaching the English language would have been removed from schools' curriculum and provided only in "private schools" under the Ministry of Education's supervision. However, the motion to ban the employment of English teachers at public institutions was not approved.