One of the most common questions asked in primary schools by teachers all over the world is, “wealth or science? Which one is better?”
By proposing this topic, a class is divided into two groups, each of which discusses the advantages and disadvantages of these two options.
After four decades of the Iranian regime’s rule over Iran, however, this question has lost its color, because science and education have become a class-divided issue in Iran.
Those who can afford education are able to realize their dreams, and those who cannot, find their destiny working as waste collectors, porters, street vendors, etc.
Today, Iran has hundreds of thousands of children who do not have the chance to choose between science and wealth, and instead are forced to yield to the most difficult, exhausting, and corrupt works to make minimum ends meet for survival.
Zahedan is one of the most deprived areas in the country. After school, boys are forced to work as porters at the border of Pakistan, while the girls mostly work at tailor shops or provide water from pits for a minimum wage, because most of the settlements lack piped water.
On January 23, the state-run news agency ILNA quoted Mohammad Riggi, a school director, in their article, writing, “Most of the children from poor families go to the border and do things whatever they can do on the or work as porters. When female students reach the sixth grade, they cannot continue studying because secondary school is not provided for them here.”
Contrary to the regime’s constitution, education is no longer free. With the establishment of non-governmental schools of various types, the rich, mostly the regime’s officials and supporters, have access to extraordinary facilities while public schools struggle with poverty and deprivation.
In regards to the critical situation that has arisen from this decision, even the regime’s officials are forced to regret what they have done to the country’s future.
On December 10, 2019, the state-run news agency Tasnim wrote, “The deputy of elementary education of the Ministry of Education says, I wish, we never started the path towards non-governmental education, but now by separating students in different schools, we have implemented the ‘Sassanian class system’ in a different way.”
This has created huge discrimination between the children. Tasnim added, “In feudalism systems, we witnessed class divisions, but when children went to school, the style of education had a clear message, that they are all equal.”
In the whole of Iran, there are more than 55,000 government primary schools and 100,000 non-government schools. These are not only separated in terms of social class but students are also separated based on intelligence.
Separation based on people’s intelligence is more dangerous than class separation. Children can accept that they are born into a low-income family, but when they are divided in terms of intelligence, this destroys their self-confidence.
On August 23, 2021, the state-run daily ICNA quoted an educational expert and wrote, “It is unfortunate that we have done this with 85% of the country’s student population who attend public schools, and we only pay attention to 15% of the population with intelligence and family financial capabilities.”
The university entry exam statistics of 2022 reveal this catastrophe. The share of the top 40 ranked schools was as follows:
- Schools of brilliant talents: 72.5 percent.
- Special non-profit schools: 22.5 percent.
- State talent schools: 2.5 percent.
- Public schools: 2.5 percent.
72.5 percent of the top ranks are from the so-called ‘Sampad’ schools, while the share of Sistan and Baluchistan schools in the top ranks of the entrance exam is 0.16 percent.
It is not without reason that the human development index of Iran is dropping annually. In 2021, this index decreased for the fourth consecutive year and approached the level reached back in 2014.