To understand the root of educational injustice in Iran ruled by the Iranian regime, we should look back at the regime’s educational policies following the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Shortly after the end of the war, as the regime faced a huge budget deficit, it decided to start up quasi-governmental, private, and non-profit schools to compensate for its budget deficit by looting the Iranian people.
By separating the educational institutes, the regime created gross discrimination between the rich, mostly children of regime officials, and those loyal to the regime, like the members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Basij forces, and ordinary children.
To support their maligning ambitions, the regime decreased the education budget significantly and created educational and cultural poverty for most of the children in the country.
On August 14, the state-run Asr-e Iran daily wrote, “With the reduction of government revenues after the revolution and with the beginning of the war, financial pressure was directed at the country’s largest public sector, namely education, and universities.”
They added, “As a result, the budget of this department was reduced, but the needs of the children of officials were provided by paying non-profit schools from the large administrative incomes, and day by day, by monetizing public education, they made it more unequal and class-based.”
Another challenge that has added to this inequality is the so-called university entrance exam. As the regime’s rich officials can buy their way through it, they have created an unequal and corrupt competition between their children and the children of ordinary people. As a result, the final losers are the children of ordinary Iranians who cannot afford to compete with the children of regime officials.
In addition to these created inequalities, this has also created an atmosphere of depression and an increase in suicides among students.
On August 13, the state-run Arman daily discussed the so-called ‘exam mafia’ and wrote, “For many years, the issue of entrance exam mafia has become one of the challenges of the country’s education system, which swallows educational justice. This issue takes on a serious tone when out of the first forty selected people in the country in the 2022 national entrance exam, only one student studied in a normal public school.”
It is very clear where the rest are coming from. Private schools were founded by and designed for the regime’s officials and its loyalists.
Not long ago, a member of the regime’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution announced that the financial turnover of entrance examination classes has reached over 20 trillion rials per year, which is taken out of Iranian families’ pockets. The shocking statistics that have been published from the entrance exam results show that the entrance exam belongs to non-profits, special schools, etc.
This year’s national exam pass list, stated that talented schools had a share of 72.5%, special non-profit schools had a share of 22.5%, and public schools for the talented had a share of 2.5%. Meanwhile, the share of public schools in this year’s national entrance exam was only 2.5%.
What is more tragic is that even when the students succeed to enter university, they are faced with many barriers, which are only removable with extra payments. Even the regime’s experts have admitted that the country’s educational centers are no longer a place of science and learning, but a place for more income for the regime.
A sociologist stated that some supervisors write theses in the place of their students and charge the student for it. A student can easily get his/her thesis done without any effort by paying a fee, and interestingly, this practice is not even a secret.
In their August 14 publication, the state-run Ebtekar daily wrote, “From the moment a student enters the university, there is the possibility of cheating, from homework in the form of research and translation to the dissertation.”
They stated, “All can be obtained by paying money. A medical student can complete the internship and hospital shifts by hiring another student or a doctor. Universities give privileges to elite students, any student can have books, inventions, and certificates in his name by paying money and be recognized as elite and benefit from the privileges.”
Unfortunately, the fate of millions of children and young people in Iran is in the hands of a handful of criminals, oppressors, and looters who are destroying the most valuable resource of the nation, the academic and intellectual capital.