A student group active in defending the rights of those students who are denied higher education has criticized the policies of Iran’s minister of science research and technology Kamran Daneshjoo and declared that Ahmadinejad’s administration is pursuing a second cultural revolution by practicing “educational apartheid.”
In its report, Shoraye Defa az Haghe Tahsil (Council on the Defense of Education Rights) reminds that the practice of educational policies that deny people the right to attend institutions of higher education, particularly during the last three years, has increased and hundreds of students have been denied access to education through the decrees issued by the disciplinary committees of universities and the central disciplinary committee at the ministry of science, and also through the “illegal” practice of marking students with stars at the national entrance exams for Master’s programs. Under the star program, a student who is deemed to be unfit to pursue higher education because of his political views or actions, is given one a number of stars by university authorities who monitor students with assistance from security and law enforcement agencies. The higher the number of stars the more likely that a student will be denied full or some access to higher education.
Through the many years that Daneshjoo has been the minister of science, he has been often spoken of measures to Islamicize universities, segregate them by sex, prevent dissident students from pursuing their education, and, dismiss and pre-maturely retire professors. These programs have been called “planned and indicative of the administration’s determination to continue to violate existing laws and deny students their rightful rights” by a student who has been deprived of pursuing his higher education.
Continuation and Deeping of Destructive Policies
In one of his recent statements, the minister of education said, “the activists of the sedition movement, its leaders and those who insist on their wrong views” have no right to admission in universities. According to IRNA official news agency, speaking at the an event at Shahrood University on April 27, Daneshjoo said, “Individuals who have lost their path after the 2009 sedition and following the wise comments of the esteemed supreme leader insist on their path, have no place at universities. Our society and population does not allow us and we shall not commit treason.” Sedition is the term Iranian authorities use for the massive protests that were organized or supported by the Green Movement after the 2009 presidential elections were announced which re-instated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. They assert that the elections were rigged.
This statement by the minister brought forth strong condemnations and criticism from student organizations across the country. In the most recent response, the Council on the Defense of Education Rights presented a detailed report and called the remarks “criminal.”
In March/April too Daneshjoo repeated this message in Qom. Daftare Tahkim Vahdat, the principal student organization in the country condemned those remarks and said they “revealed the express violation of student rights.”
A student interviewed by Rooz, who has been denied the right to pursue his education said that the timing of these remarks by Daneshjoo was important as they come two or three weeks before the announcement of the results of the national entrance exams to universities’ Master’s programs and “increase concerns about greater restrictions to higher education.”
He also said that the recent expulsion of professors such as Alireza Beheshti, Ghorban Behzadinejad and Mohsen Mirdamadi were not unrelated to these remarks. “It appears that Kamran Daneshjoo intends to create the atmosphere of a cemetery in the universities and through the support and guidance from hardline institutions wants to implement the second cultural revolution,” he said.
The cultural revolution of the Islamic republic, which is officially referred to as the “awakening of the Islamization of universities,” took place in the early years of the revolution and refers to educational initiatives which resulted in the dismissal and purging of many professors and students from institutions of higher education.
In its report on the education bans pursued and implemented during Ahmadinejad’s administration, the Council on the Defense of Education Rights writes that the “apartheid educational policies, particularly in the last three years, have gained momentum in the country and hundreds of students have been barred from pursuing their higher education goals.” The report also criticized the “star marking of students” program through which students are deprived from continuing their education because of their political views or actions. In addition to being deprived of pursuing their educational aspirations, many “starred” students have also been arrested, interrogated and imprisoned, particularly after the 2009 presidential elections and in the course of the nationwide protests to that election results. Among this latter group are Majid Dari, Zia Nabavi and Mehdie Golroo who are now serving time in prison. Some students were also arrested and “starred” because of their protests to Ahmadinejad’s televised debates during the 2009 presidential campaigns. Other students who remain behind bars are Saeed Jalalifar, Majid Tavakoli, Emad Bahavar, Eftekhar Bozorgian, Kaveh Rezai, Arash Sadeghi, Ali Akbar Mohammadzadeh, Moin Ghamin and Ali Ajami.