Iran’s educational system, like many other institutions and government entities, is currently facing a significant crisis.

The Ministry of Education, which is responsible for supporting approximately 16 million students and around one million educators and teachers, is struggling to meet its obligations.

This has led to increased dropout rates among students and a surge in unemployment among teachers, further exacerbating the country’s poverty issue.

Teacher and Curriculum Challenges

In Iran, teachers are grappling with a lack of job security and wages that often fall below the poverty line. This economic hardship has led to regular protests and strikes, as regularly reported in the news.

Further compounding the challenges faced by the education system is the controversy surrounding the content of textbooks. Criticisms have been raised over the perceived distortion of content by religious leaders.

The discord between the curriculum and 21st-century perspectives has led to many teachers losing their motivation to teach these subjects.

Additionally, social inequalities between ordinary students and those of regime officials are causing disillusionment among many students, who are losing faith in the value of their education.

The State of Education in Iran

On July 16, Qasem Ahmadi Lashki, the legal and parliamentary deputy of the Ministry of Education, was quoted in the state-run daily Setar-e Sobh, giving a sobering account of the current situation.

He reported, “We have about 16.2 million students, and we have 23 types of schools. About 2.2 million students study in private schools, 405,000 students in Shahed schools, 125,000 students in Sampad schools, 1.1 million students in Board of Trustees schools, and about 48,000 students in Sama schools.

The over 12 million students that remain are studying in dilapidated, semi-dilapidated, container, or desert schools run by the government.”

Lashki also acknowledged a drop in the academic performance of students, noting a 2-point decrease in the GPA of twelfth-grade students in the final exams this year.

Disparities in Student Performance

A report by Jahan-e Sanat on November 8, 2021, emphasized the widening gap in academic performance between lower and higher socioeconomic groups.

According to their findings, wealthier sections of society spend 53 to 60 times more on their children’s education than those in lower deciles, leading to a score difference of more than 23-fold.

Staffing Shortages

A key factor contributing to the decline in the quality of education in Iran is the shortage of teachers. According to official statistics, out of the total 996,589 education workers, 735,350 are teachers, about 31,929 are administrative workers, and the rest are workers in other areas of the education system.

In response to the lack of teachers, school principals, and directors have been asked to teach for six hours in classrooms. This gap in staffing has led to the employment of ‘service teachers,’ ‘soldier teachers,’ ‘student teachers,’ and retirees.

Additionally, the Ministry of Education recently announced a shortage of about 47,000 service personnel, including janitors, cooks, assistant cooks, and drivers.

Iran’s education system is undergoing a period of substantial challenge. As the nation grapples with these issues, the need for systemic change to ensure the right to education for all citizens has never been more apparent.