Boys and girls at Iranian preschools are to be separated in the latest instance of gender segregation in the Islamic republic, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
Iranian media reported on August 21 that the Education Ministry issued a directive extending gender segregation to preschools.
"The mingling of boys and girls is forbidden at preschool classes, except in schools where the number of students does not reach the required minimum," according to the directive published by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).
In an interview with RFE/RL, Paris-based academic and sociologist Saeed Paivandi said the directive was part of the gender-segregation policy that began at universities.
Paivandi also said that since the preschool educational system was mostly run by the private sector and government had no key role in that area, it wanted to control and supervise that system through such directives.
Gender segregation was first proposed in 2009 by Hojatoleslam Nabiollah Fazlali, the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology.
Fazlali criticized co-ed universities, saying allowing male and female students in the same class was like "putting meat in front of a cat."
Gender segregation has never before been applied in Iran's preschool institutions, Paivandi said. It was not even common in the Maktab, the traditional, primarily religious elementary schools that existed prior to the establishment of primary schools and kindergartens in Iran.
"This directive is just a regressive move...it is nothing less than a sign of religious dogmatism," Paivandi added.
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