MIDDLE EAST

The bankrupt politics of not teaching English in Iran’s schools

Decades ago, there was a story that spread in Lebanon and Syria about a ‘heroic’ student, who got zero in the French language during the French mandate, which made him a hero, as he hated and boycotted the language of the colonist.

The irony, which was made as a cliché by some, is that it expressed a certain temperament in patriotism: a primitive and extremely crude one.

Nasserism and the Left introduced later richer meanings for ‘patriotism’: development, dependency and independence from the capital market.

The main issue is the economy, not the language. But the policies of nationalizing of education and foreign trade, and rejecting foreign mediation, have revived that joke or cliché.  

Countries like Egypt, Iraq and Syria, which were the most developed countries in the Arab world, became incapable to speak the foreign languages and in the competencies associated with it. Globalization, which made English the world’s first language, and gave knowledge, free imagination and innovation an unprecedented role in the economy, revealed the flaws of nationalization systems.

Their weak presence in production, productivity and competition was revealed.

Meanwhile, in his novel ‘Learning English’ the Lebanese novelist Rashid Al-Daif learned English as a necessity so as not to fall into revenge and murder. This, of course, did not negate the theories left to us by the American universities, saying in their own way that he who gets ‘zero’ in foreign languages is a ‘hero’. 

Ali Khamenei’s order 

Days ago, these headlines were all brought back to life, when Ali Khamenei said no to teaching English Language for primary school students in Iran. That’s how he believes he repulses the “cultural invasion” and strengthens the Persian language.

The regime, which had previously launched a miserable ‘cultural revolution’, is raising the Iranians badly and preparing them to be losers in this world. Thus, it declares the corruption of its supreme paternity over the Iranians. It establishes other rituals for growing up, painful and punitive, and by this decision the regime declares that staying in power means that children must stay children, but rather stupid ones

Hazem Saghieh

At the same time, Khamenei was disrupting the social media. Thus the secondary school and university students (many of whom were recently arrested) should not know much as well. What we have is more than enough.

There are some delusions that does not hide the void of nationalism: If the recent protests were of an economic nature, the response was of a cultural nature, or rather an educational one. Bets on the gains of lifting sanctions did not work. The requirements for extensive bribery were not collected. Economic and financial gains from the West were not achieved. The Iranians protested angrily in the streets. Their government prevented teaching English Language for primary stage students and disrupted social media for the older ones.

It is a rough and clear interpretation of the theory which combines the desire to have a real benefit from the economic ‘dependence’, and the ‘cultural’ outcry against it and its ‘prevalence’.

The regime, which had previously launched a miserable ‘cultural revolution’, is raising the Iranians badly and preparing them to be losers in this world. Thus, it declares the corruption of its supreme paternity over the Iranians. It establishes other rituals for growing up, painful and punitive, and by this decision the regime declares that staying in power means that children must stay children, but rather stupid ones.

Most probably, the anger of a child who knows that he is doomed to remain a child, creates miracles.

This article is also published in Arabic.

__________

Hazem Saghieh is a Lebanese political analyst and the political editor of the London-based Arab newspaper al-Hayat.

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Last Update: Sunday, 14 January 2018 KSA 02:39 - GMT 23:39
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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