Iran's primary schools are no longer permitted to teach English over fears that such early lessons could open the door to a Western "cultural invasion," reports Reuters. An education official announced on state-run TV Saturday that the rule applies to both public and private institutions. "Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” declared Mehdi Navid-Adham. Iran's students are typically taught English starting around age 12, but the new concerns appear to surround schools where the foreign language curriculum begins earlier. In 2016, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei complained about the "promotion of a foreign culture in the country and among children."
Saturday's announcement came at a conspicuous time for the Iranian government, whose Revolutionary Guard said the same day that security forces had ended the wave of anti-government protests that erupted last month. Officials did not link the English lesson announcement with the protests, but the Guard blamed the unrest on foreign entities, including the US. Some were skeptical about enforcement of the new ban. “It is not even do-able, with [many] families prioritizing English in their children’s education," one reformist politician tells the Financial Times. In his 2016 speech, the ayatollah warned that foreign nations looking to expand their "colonization" can do so most easily by shaping the thoughts and culture of young people. (Read more Iran stories.)