DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Education Ministry has ordered an Iranian school under supervision of the Iranian Embassy in Dushanbe to dismiss all Tajik and Afghan pupils, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Ministry spokesman Noilshoh Nuraliev told RFE/RL that according to the agreement signed by Tajikistan and the Iranian Embassy, only children of Iranian diplomats and Iranian citizens living in Tajikistan could study at the school.
Nuraliev added that the number of the pupils attending the school was much higher than its real capacity.
But Ali Asghar Sherdust, the Iranian ambassador to Dushanbe, told RFE/RL that he regretted the ministry's decision.
He said that, according to a preliminary agreement, Tajiks and Afghans could study at the Iranian school until the end of the school year and after that continue their studies at the Tajik-Iranian International School in Dushanbe, which is expected to open at the beginning of the next school year.
Sherdust added that a lot of the dismissed pupils would have problems in Tajik schools because they can only read and write in the Persian alphabet.
Iranian officials say that Iran has such schools in 55 countries and that only Tajikistan has ordered students to be dismissed from the school.
Some 90 Tajiks and 150 Afghans are currently studying at the Iranian school in Dushanbe.
Some experts have linked the ministry's decision to the return of Tajik students from religious schools in Islamic countries.
Tajik students began returning from those countries in August and September after President Emomali Rahmon said students at illegal Islamic schools too often "fall under the influence of extremists and turn into enemies."
Rahmon urged parents to bring their children back to Tajikistan.
Since then, up to 1,000 Tajik students have returned from madrasahs in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, and other Islamic countries.