Islamic Republic of Iran

Shahrnaz Bakhshalizadeh
Hossein Ghasmpour Moghaddam
Ministry of Education, Research Institute for Education

Language and Literacy

The education system in Iran is a social and cultural institution that serves as the most important organization for the edification, dissemination, and transfer of culture in Iranian society, helping students to lay appropriate foundations and develop appropriate values.1 Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution states that the official language of Iran is Persian (Farsi) and that “the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”2 The population of Iran is approximately 79 million with a literacy rate of 87 percent among those age 15 and older.3 Persian is the mother tongue of at least 65 percent of the population and is spoken by most of the remaining 35 percent.

Iran is a diverse country with a population comprising many ethnic backgrounds, including Persians (53 percent), Azerbaijanis (16 percent), Kurds (10 percent), Lurs (7 percent), Arabs (2 percent), Baluchis (2 percent), Turkmens (1 percent), and Turkic tribal groups such as the Mazandarani and Gilaki (7 percent).4 A one month program is offered to students entering first grade who do not speak Farsi at home. According to article 3 of the Constitution, the government is responsible for providing free education and strengthening the spirit of inquiry and investigation in science, technology, culture, and Islamic studies through secondary school. Religious minority groups including Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians are free to teach and practice their own religion.