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Iran Sets New Conditions For Employing Teachers

A group of Iranian student praying during school.
A group of Iranian student praying during school.
Iran's Education Ministry has issued new directives barring the employment as school teachers of persons affiliated with "illegal" parties, organizations, and groups.

The Iranian Labor News Agency said the directives issued on November 2 stipulate that such category of persons may not be employed as teachers "unless they repent" of that affiliation or support.

Belief and practical commitment to the principle of "velayat-e faqih" -- the rule of the supreme leader -- as well as to the Islamic republic regime and constitution have been among the requirements for employing teachers in Iran since 1981.

Saeed Peyvandi, a Paris-based expert on education in Iran, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that such measures pave the way for questioning job applicants about their thoughts, beliefs, ideology, and political affiliations.

"Enforcing this directive necessitates constant surveillance of school teachers lest they support groups that are not desirable [to the authorities], or whose activities are banned," he added.

Such measures go against the simplest educational criteria, according to which teachers should enjoy at least a minimum of freedom of thought and expression in order to do their job, Peyvandi said.

The directive also says that priority in selecting school personnel is given to those who "volunteer for activities in revolutionary institutions" and "participate in political, social, and religious activities," among other criteria.

Peyvandi said the directive obviously discriminates in favor of those who cooperate with the paramilitary and with governmental, religious, and ideological bodies.

"This makes the educational sphere vulnerable, because job applicants may become nominal members of such institutions simply in order to secure a job, which will contribute to promoting a culture of hypocrisy in Iranian society," he said.