Iranian education minister: 70 percent of Iranian students are bilingual

Fars news agency: Education minister said: 70 percent of students throughout country are bilingual and their mother language doesn't convert to Persian after entering to first year of school and passing one year. How can such students compete with students those educate in Tehran? Haj-babayi, education minister, states: the students those faced this decline of education, couldn’t always succeed.

Just a year ago (on December 15, 2009) the Iranian minister of education, Mr. Hamidreza Haji-Babayi, revealed that 70% of Iranian students are bilingual. What this means is that Farsi/Persian is the natural mother tongue to only 30% of Iranian students. In other words, 70% of Iranian's population is non-Persian and they are forced to start their education with non-mother language. Despite this fact, the Iranian government along with the majority of Persian intellectuals, scholars and even opposition activists continue to disregard the country's rich ethnic and linguistic diversity. Iran has one of the widest varieties of ethnic groups in the world, and none of ethnic groups form the vast majority of the population but since 1925, Persian governors deny being of non-Persian peoples and they have executed many injustice plans for what they called the unifying of Iran. These plans included denying of non-Persian ethnic groups, banning of use of non-Persian languages, insulting to non-Persian cultures, changing of non-Persian geographical names to Persian, disintegrating of historical autonomous states, for example historical Azerbaijan has disintegrated to several provinces, and other assimilating plans.

Azerbaijani Turks along with Kurds, Baluchis, Arabs, Turkmens, Gilaks, Mazandaranis, Lors and other small minorities constitute this 70 percent of population of Iran. None of those ethnic groups are allowed learning their languages. Azerbaijani Turks and Persians are almost equals in population number but Iranian tyrannous system has banned such primary rights of non-Persian peoples and unfortunately, attitude of opposition groups of Iranian government about this unfair education system is very undemocratic, as Islamic government's is. Azerbaijani activists, as Supporters of bilingual instruction, believe that students should gain confidence in using their native language before being introduced to the Persian curriculum.

Bilingual education, application of specialized educational techniques to enhance the learning opportunities of students whose native language differs from the predominant language of instruction, is popular system that non-Persian activists want to be implemented in Iran. Defenders of education of mother language believe that competency in one’s native language provides important cognitive and social foundations for second language learning and academic learning in general.

Translated Farsi to English by: Yashar Bugun