Iran Has Around “9 Million Absolute Illiterates”
The Iranian regime’s treacherous policies towards the education system have created a real national crisis.
According to former Minister of Education in Ebrahim Raisi’s government, there are around “9 million absolute illiterates” in Iran. He also mentioned that the number of “children deprived from education” has currently exceeded 160,000, and there is a total of “970,000 children deprived from education” in the country across three educational levels.
The existence of over 9 million absolute illiterates signifies “illiteracy exceeding 10 percent of Iran’s population,” indicating a significantly high illiteracy rate in the country.
In a television program Yousef Norouzi, the former Minister of Education, said, “Regarding the number of illiterate individuals, according to the 2016 census and statistics announced by the Statistical Center of Iran, we have 8,795,000 illiterate people in Iran.”
The former Minister of Education added that this statistic represents the number of illiterates based on self-declaration by individuals aged six and above who are “absolutely illiterate and cannot read or write.” He also stated that his estimate for the absolute illiteracy rate for the current year is around the same figure.
Yousef Norouzi mentioned the difference in educational goals between Iran and other countries and said that currently, “the educational goal in Iran is set from ages 6 to 49, while the world’s educational goal is lifelong education.”
According to Norouzi, the government has not done anything to educate people aged 49 and above, while according to research, “for every 10 percent increase in literacy, two percent is added to the Gross Domestic Product.”
The announcement of the existence of over 9 million absolute illiterates in the country by Yousef Norouzi comes in contrast to his statement in December 2022 as the “Minister of Education” when he said, “According to statistics, there are 1,400,000 illiterate people in the country, and we need to create the foundation for their literacy through a combined approach and the use of information and communication technologies.”
The former Minister of Education also provided two statistics regarding the number of school dropouts. He stated that currently, “the coverage of primary education in the country is 98.6 percent, but 160,373 children have not been enrolled in elementary school” and are considered as school dropouts.
He also declared the total number of individuals who have dropped out of school in Iran as “970,000” and stated that “according to the latest information, there were 970,000 school dropouts in the country, of which approximately 150,000 have been reduced.”
School dropouts refer to the age group of the population that should be in school but are not present in the country’s education cycle or have never entered the education system.
The statistics for dropouts in the primary education level were announced to be around 136,000 according to the 2016 census, which, according to the former Minister of Education, has now reached over 160,000.
The announcement of the existence of “9 million absolute illiterates” in Iran is related to the deliberations of the Parliament’s Joint Commission during the review of the seventh five-year development plan, aiming to “dissolve the current structure of the literacy movement.” According to this decision, the responsibilities of the “Literacy Movement Organization” will be transferred to the “Primary Education Deputy of the Ministry of Education.”
Alireza Abdi, the head of the Literacy Movement Organization, stated on Saturday, “In 1984, we deviated from our path, and that was the government’s intervention in the Literacy Movement.” The recent decision of the Joint Commission of the Seventh Development Plan further reinforces the government’s intervention in the Literacy Movement.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, a member of the Education, Research, and Technology Commission as well as the Joint Commission of the Seventh Development Plan, who supports the dissolution of the Literacy Movement, stated that “by transferring the Literacy Movement to the Primary Education department, an ‘Adult Education Unit’ will be established within this department.”
Previously, the Research Center of the regime’s Parliament reported in 2019 that the number of “absolute illiterates” in Iran was close to 9 million. However, that same year, the World Bank and UNESCO assessed the number of “absolute illiterates” in Iran to be higher than the statistics provided by the Research Center of the Parliament.
According to World Bank statistics, the literacy rate among the Iranian population was approximately 85.5 percent in 2016, with around 11.6 million literate individuals. According to UNESCO’s statistical report in 2019, about two percent of Iranians under the age of 24 were “absolute illiterates.”
Mohsen Gharaati, a cleric close to previous and current regime’s leaders, represented them in Literacy Movement Organization for years and served as its head until 2010. However, some government officials now acknowledge that after 44 years of operation, the organization has failed and, therefore, they are seeking its dissolution.
In addition to the poverty that the mullahs’ regime has created in four decades of ruling Iran, due to a continuing decrease of educational budgets, there is a lack of educational space and educators, and available educational space isn’t up to safety standards.
It’s noteworthy many believe that Ebrahim Raisi, the regime’s president, attended school for only six grades. His role was to issue death sentences for those who opposed Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In a country where a cleric with a sixth-grade education becomes the president, obviously the government doesn’t value education at all.