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Iran bans English lessons at primary schools, after 'cultural invasion' warning

Khamenei has spoken of the 'dangers' of teaching English at primary school level [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2018

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Iran's culture ministry has warned of the 'cultural threat' posed by Western powers, leading authorities to ban English language lessons in all primary schools.
Iran has announced a ban on the teaching of English at primary schools in the country, following a warning by authorities of Persian culture being "infilitrated" by hostile powers.

Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, said that English-language lessons in all primary schools in Iran would no longer be allowed by authorities.

"Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations," Navid-Adham said, according to Reuters.

"This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid."

It is unclear if the recent hostile comments directed at the English language relate to recent unrest in Iran

Dozens of anti-government protests erupted across the country late December until a government crackdown led to at least 22 deaths.

Young and working-class Iranians made up most of the protesters, which Tehran blamed on hostile foreign powers, including the US and Israel.

Some have pointed to comments made by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to teachers in 2016, in which he expressed unease about the teaching of English in Iran.

In the speech, posted on the Iranian leader's website, Khamanei warned that "teaching of the English language (is now) spreading to nursery schools".

"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," he added.

"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."

English is a popular subject in Iran, which students can usually only opt to study at secondary school.

Due to its popularity, many schools are offering English language courses at primary and even nursery level.

The promotion of the English-language has been a frequent target of conservatives in Iran.

Last year, the Academy of Persian Language and Literature took aim at popular chocolate spread brand Nutella, saying the signage on popular "Nutella Bars" in Iran should adapt their Latin script and name to suit local conventions.

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