Religious education in Iran and Canada
November 5, 2004
When the revolution started, my daughter was in a
grade school. She
had to change the school a couple of times, because her school
became boys school. She did not underestand why, as soon as she
made some friends and got to know teachers, she had to change
Before the legal age of 9, she had to wear the maghna-e headscarf,
and do her
daily prayer on the bare ground in the school. After
several years of war between Iran and Iraq, my family and I moved
Iran, and went to a couple of countries, and finally landed
I registered my daughter in a public school. The first year was
the hardest for her. Besides the burning cold winter weather of
Canada while walking to school, she had to study courses in French
and English. At night she spent many hours doing homework. She
seemed to have no problem with math or chemistry courses,
but she had a hard time with courses like literature, economy and
MRI (moral and religious issues).
Every night she had to read a book and write an essay for a literature
course, and about 20-30 xerox pages about a religion and its moral
basis as well as its superstition, for the MRI course. Because
of her language barrier, I asked the school if she could take the
MRI course a year later. But they said it has to be taken
by all students every year.
Trying to help my daughter, every night I would spent a couple
of hours, looking up in the dictionary to find the meaning of the
new or complicated words. Being involved with her curricula, I
learned a lot about all religions of the world, their strength,
weaknesses, and superstitions.
After they covered all the religions
of the world in the MRI course, they talked about issues like
drugs, AIDS, and teen pregnancy. I was glad that my daughter took
Among the books she read for a literature course, I found
a small book titled "Animal
Farm" by George Orwell, a
British writer who grew up in India. I was shocked when I read
this book. I thought the revolution of 1979 was copied from that
book! I suggest every Iranian to
read it, if you have not already.
By the time my daughter graduated from high school, she had read
and analised hundreds of books by various writers, learned about
the strength and flaws in all religions, exposed to modern sciences
and technology, sociology and psycology, was aware of current issues
in the society and how to deal with them, and could
converse in two modern languages.
What is the possibility of a
mullah, a leftist or others to persuade a youth like her to start
a revolution or riot, as did the educated youth in Iran? Zero!
In schools in Iran, many good books were illegal in both regimes. The
students had to copy and memorize selective texts, and there was
always competition for grades. They did not teach the students
critical thinking and team work.
Having had a chance to compare the educational system in Iran
with that in Canada, I think the key to solving our problems in
Iran, to achieve democracy, and succeed in economic and social
programs, is to revolutionize the system of education in Iran,
to reflect a real education needed in our country.