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Controversy Over Hiring Of Iran-Iraq War Veterans' Children

An Iranian Education Ministry decision to hire thousands of teachers who are the offspring of disabled Iran-Iraq War veterans has sparked a controversy, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The Iranian parliament's Judiciary Committee has asked the Inspector-General's Office to investigate the testing procedure that the Education Ministry said it used on some 60,000 people who applied for about 10,000 teaching positions.

Approximately 80 percent of the 10,000 selected to be teachers are the sons and daughters of Iran-Iraq War veterans who suffer from various handicaps.

The Education Ministry held the employment test for teachers in August and announced on September 11 those that had been selected.

Shirzad Abdullahi, a Tehran-based Iranian educational expert, told Radio Farda that Education Ministry officials reject charges that those who where chosen are not qualified for the jobs.

"The Education Ministry claims the employment test took place under fair conditions, but the parliament's Judiciary Committee has a different opinion and has asked the Inspector-General's Office to take action," he said.

Some parliament members have also questioned the hirings.

Abdullahi noted that the selection of the new teachers occurred while some 66,000 regular teachers are either unemployed or working on temporary contracts.

"Parliament approved a law in April that teachers with temporary contracts must be employed by the Education Ministry for five-year terms," he told Radio Farda.

Abdullahi said the law was meant to put a priority on the hiring of teachers working on temporary contracts and that parliament was opposed to the minstry's new testing process.

"The Education Ministry claims that 26,000 of the teachers with temporary contracts have been employed [in permanent positions] this year," he said. "However, [that means] about 40,000 have not."

Some fundamental changes in higher education were instituted after the disputed 2009 presidential election, including an order by the Iranian supreme leader to limit the teaching of some social sciences.

Shortly thereafter, Hamid-Reza Hajibabai was named education minister and several university deans and lecturers were ousted. Critics said the firings were due to what the government perceived as a lack of loyalty to the regime.