Iran has banned the teaching of English language in primary schools, calling the subject a “cultural invasion”.
The ban came after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said learning the language in the early years paved the way for a Western “cultural invasion”.
A senior education official announced the language had been banned because the Iranian culture of students is established during primary level education.
“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television late on Saturday.
He continued: “This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid”.
He said non-curriculum English classes may also be blocked under the new rules.
English is a foreign language option for many at secondary level, which begins at the age of 12, but its popularity has led to classes being offered by some schools much earlier.
“Teaching of foreign languages has not been recommended by any means” at primary level, Navid-Adham told the state-run IRIB news agency.
He also said that primary schools which teach English as an extra class outside of school hours were committing a “violation”.
The ban does not affect foreign-language tuition at secondary school or popular private institutes which teach English outside the educational system.
Iran’s Shia-Islamist leaders have often issued pleas about the risks posed by a “cultural invasion”.
In 2016, Khamenei, who holds the final say in all state matters, expressed fury about the “teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools”.
According to the text of that particular speech to teachers posted on a website run by his office, Khamenei said:
“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.”