Iran has banned teaching the English language in primary schools, calling the subject a “cultural invasion”.
The education ministry “envisages strengthening Persian language skills and Iranian Islamic culture of pupils at the primary school stage”, its secretary told state media.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has previously expressed concern about the teaching of English.
It is seen as an important skill by many Iranians and is widely studied.
English is a foreign language option for many at secondary level, which begins at the age of 12, but its popularity has led to classes being offered by some schools much earlier.
“Teaching of foreign languages has not been recommended by any means” at primary level, Mehdi Navid-Adham, secretary of the Supreme Education Council, told the state-run IRIB news agency.
He also said that primary schools which teach English as an extra class outside of school hours were committing a “violation”.
The ban does not affect foreign-language tuition at secondary school or popular private institutes which teach English outside the educational system.
Another isolationist measure
Analysis by Rana Rahimpour, BBC Persian
This move is in line with the supreme leader’s anti-Western, isolationist view of the world. He has repeatedly said that teaching English to children from an early age could lead to “western cultural infiltration”.
He says the language of science is not necessarily English and that children should be taught other languages like Spanish, French, or eastern languages.
President Hassan Rouhani disagrees with him, and has said that knowing English will help young people join the job market. But he had little power to stop the ban.
However, it is unlikely to stop families from pushing their children to learn English.
Many middle class families already take their kids to independent language institutions after school hours because the methods used to teach English at normal schools aren’t very successful.