Iran is banning the teaching of English in elementary schools, a top education official said Saturday, as the regime sought to push back against a perceived Western invasion.
Mehdi Navid-Adham, the head of the state-run high education council, told state television that Iran needed to protect young minds from foreign influences.
“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” Navid-Adham said, according to a Reuters news agency report.
“The assumption is that in primary education the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid,” he said.
Navid-Adham’s announcement came as Iran said it had successfully quelled several days of protests in which 22 people were killed and over 1,000 arrested during widespread demonstrations against economic hardships.
Iranian officials had repeatedly blamed the disturbances on Western-backed instigators.
English is usually taught in Iranian schools from ages 12 to 14 but some elementary schools also have English classes, according to Reuters.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned in the past of a “cultural invasion” from Western books and movies, including English instructional materials.
“All these teaching books, which have been prepared on the basis of modern and good methods, promote the Western lifestyle. They promote the English lifestyle. When our children, teenagers and youth read these books, they do not learn the language only,” he said in 2013. “It is possible that they even forget the things that they have learnt, but what influences them most is the western lifestyle that they become familiar with as a result of reading such books.”