Three Lectures in Session of "The Need for Compiling Oral History of Educational System"

Oral History Is Description of Situation

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Reported by Oral History Website of Iran, the meeting on necessity of compiling oral history of educational system of 1340s (SH) and 1350s (SH) attended by Seyyed Kazem Akrami, Ahmad Safi and Eghbal Ghasemi Pouya and was held in Parham Hall at building of National Library Archives of Islamic Republic of Iran on Monday morning September 11, 2017.


Purpose of the Pahlavi educational system was training employee

Seyyed Kazem Akrami said "The great sociologist of nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Emile Durkheim, said that education is part of a social life that is related to political, economic, cultural, historical, and ... parts." If we present statistics about the pre-revolution, we definitely must consider population growth, global developments and cyberspace in changing those statistics."

"After the revolution, we created a general justice, we increased percentage of people who need to school, and we also raised highly share of girls," he added. In 1944, 27%, in 1978 and 1979, 38%, in 2000, 48 %, and in 2016, 49 % of people who needed education were educated in different ways. In fact, we have a better situation than before the revolution in terms of quantitative justice, but if we want to segregate it into girls and boys, women and men, rural and urban, according to UNESCO data, in 1956 (1%) , 1976 (17%), 1996 (62%) and in 2006 (69%) of rural women went to school. In 1956 (1%), 1966 (25%), 1976 (44%), 1986 (60%), 1996 (73%), 1996 (77%), and in 2006 (81%) of rural men went to school. Raising growth rate of student population, of course, is because of growth of the country population. The country population was about 33 or 34 million in the early days of the revolution, and now it has about 80 million people. In 1956 (22%), 1966 (38%), 1976 (56%), 1986 (65%), 1991 (77%), 1996 (82%), and in 2006 (86%) of urban women went to school. In 1956 (46%), 1966 (62%), 1976 (75%), 1986 (80%), 1996 (87%), 2001 (90%), and in 2006, 93% of urban men went to school. These changes are quantitative. We see that the revolution has implemented the general justice in terms of education and has also raised gender justice.

Before the revolution in countryside, according to people's beliefs, number of schools was less for girls, and even in cities it was the same. I remember when my sister wanted to go to school, my father said that we must first obtain permission of the Marja'. I called to Qom and they also said that it's okay.

I went with my wife before Ayatollah Motahari about 1968 or 1969; the great man asked my wife "how much has you studied?" My wife replied that I studied to eight-grade. He asked why to eighth grade? You have to get a diploma, you have to go to university. It was thought of a person who knew today world, but others who did not know contemporary world thought that it would be enough if girls study just up to six-grade. We should note that the cultural transformation that was created after the revolution allowed women to attend in political assemblies, go to school, and this led today we say 69% of our rural women go to school.

We should measure the provinces one by one, but I did not have opportunity to review this matter. My time to present the issue in the session is very little, but what I remember is that once I was in my job, in Sistan and Baluchestan, at first we had 37% students, and I regretted why only 37% of those who must to be educated, go to school. When I asked for it, I realized that before the revolution they were given free nutrition in the schools and after the revolution the nutrition was stopped. That year I promised people of Sistan and Baluchestan that I will give free nutrition, and finally it was decided to give students an apple at 10 a.m. at schools every day; next year about 11 or 13 thousand students came to school from streets and alleys."

Akrami continued: "My other issue is how much has been share of education in public budget? In 1971 (7%), 1979 (12%), 1981, during the war, (15%), 1988 (18%), 1992 (24%), and now 10%! The proportion of Educational expenditure in gross domestic product (GDP) before the revolution was about 3%, in 1979, 4%, and now is still about 3%. In the first administration of Mr. Hassan Rouhani, 9.5 billion was budget of Education, but 14 billion was paid because it has paid the former administration debts for gold insurance, retirement, etc.!"

Akrami said: "Before the revolution in 1965_1969, along with Ahmad Safi, we were among the first to come to Tehran to study in "Guidance and Counseling" course. Regarding conditions of maturity and psychologists researches, since 1972 onwards, secondary schools were created, but unfortunately they were closed after the revolution. In the first year that I was in charge (Minister of Education), Mr. Safi was educational deputy of the ministry. I told him that we studied "Guidance and Counseling", and we had to implement it, and after forcing Plan and Budget Organization (PBO), we received some money and started Counseling and Guidance."

"Before the revolution, we also had private schools," he continued. My son-in-law said that I would go to a private school in Tehran, but I did not pay a Rial. Another person said that I would go to a private school in Isfahan, but all the funds were donated by philanthropists. This requires research to find out how many private schools were in each city and how many of them were private only nominally but really were governmental? How many were help by philanthropists and how much were paid low money? Mr. Ali Asghar Fani said before the revolution, about 136 Tomans of financially capable people were received to help schools, and those who did not have the ability, parent-teacher conference (the former House and School Association) did not take any money from them, but unfortunately, a few days ago, a person told me that there are two schools in Tehran 2nd District which I paid 40,000,000 Rials to those public schools last year!"

In final part of his speech, Akrami said: "The purpose of education during reign of Reza Khan was explicitly training employee for the modern state. During reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the purpose was continued, while the increase in general and specialized literacy was also among the goals of education. All people who were admitted to competitive examination would enter the university, and whoever was the first person he/she could study abroad at the expense of the government, without asking them who is your father? And ... Mr. Yassin Tamer wrote in Turkey a paper about before and after the revolution and in which he notes that before the revolution, their goal was secularization and modernization of Iran. An article of the six-year plan of The Shah and People Revolution was an educational revolution; the educational revolution was the same creation of Sepah-e-Danesh (Knowledge Corps) and middle school. After the Revolution, about two hundred programs have been presented for transforming education; the late Shahid (martyr) Beheshti wanted to write constitution of education but Hafte Tir bombing was occurred and he died a martyr. Shahid Rajaee and Shahid Bahonar had decided to continue it that 1981 Iranian Prime Minister's office bombing was operated and they could not too. When I was in charge, along with Mr. Safi and Mr. Fani, provided a document as fundamental change in education and gave it to Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution and it was approved in 1988. What is done qualitatively today is Fundamental Reform Document of Education (FRDE) that has been given to Ministry of Education. If we want to say how much they were successful in achieving goals before the revolution, and how successful we were after the revolution, I should say that they had worldly goals that in my idea they achieved those goals. After the revolution, we said that we do not believe secularization; we want to have Islamic revolution and Islamic education. If we want to say how much successful we have been, we should refer to the book "Pathology of Religious Education". In the book, many professors wrote their papers. My doctoral thesis is almost about the same topic. We are in the twenty-first century, and we must have a high scientific education along with religious and moral education."


10 spaces and 10 measures

Ahmad Safi was the second speaker of the meeting of necessity for compiling oral history of educational system of 1340s (SH) and 1350s (SH). He stated, "The greatest role of a teacher is discovering human abilities, guiding and flourishing those abilities". If we want to talk about an era, system of education, according to definition of system, it would give many messages. A system consists of a set of elements influence each other and while it is dynamic, it interprets some goals; that's why meaning of education system is very extensive. It seems that if we want to study the period from 1340s (SH) to 1350 (SH), we should analyze 10 spaces. The first space is physical space. Physical space of school is basis for development of children's physical talents. The second one is scientific space that it is a space that what we tell children and what we transmit them. We transfer three cultures in schools and universities, and teacher's task is to choose a transition so that, in fact, to convey spaces of Iranian, Islamic and global cultures. These are in fact content of our programs in schools and universities. The third is emotional space and the fourth moral space; children must grow up in an environment of rectitude and honesty. The fifth space is religious space and relationship with Creator of Being. The sixth is social space and role of teacher is to socialize children to live. The seventh one is economic space; money and budget is a milestone to success in each period. When a teacher receives some motivations, he would be more useful. The need for change in system is to allocate more finance. The Eight is space of family; father, mother, sister and brother. On the other hand, atmosphere of contentment in family is basis of success, and therefore the first teachers are mothers and fathers. The Ninth is political space; Governments have a great influence on books, programs and methods. The Tenth one is global space where major professors all over the world are involved with the issue and are effective. I had the chance to write a book called "Teacher Training in Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Germany, England, India and Pakistan". I went to these countries and wrote this book based on the travels. I wrote the book on the basis of the research "100 Years of Teacher Training in Iran". This research was commissioned by Research Institute of Education and shows that we have had 22 types of teacher training, for example elementary, rural, nomadic and religious teacher colleges, higher teacher colleges, Tarbiat Moallem, Technical and Vocational, Physical Education, Exceptional, Agriculture Universities and ... .The "Teacher's Guide" book was available to teachers of schools in every grade I n 1340s (SH)."

Ahmad Safi continued: "In 1340s (SH), 10 actions were operated. The first was separation of Ministry of Education from Ministry of Culture. History of our Education Organizationally is old 163 years and in terms of schools 167 years or more. Our first science minister, I'tizad al-Saltaneh (son of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar), was minister for 22 years. Secondly, I learned from my studies that one of our problems began alongside establishment of Ministry of Science in 1967, since our teacher education reference has always been with Education, but since that year, they said that it would be under control of Education till diploma and after diploma in the charge of Ministry of Science, therefore, we faced with problem for providing human resources because we had two references. The next feature is that reform plan for education was developed in this decade. Based on this reform plan, 13 commissions were formed and in 1966 five-year elementary school was began for the first time in Iran, and then the three-year middle school was created in 1971, and then in 1974, high school and Comprehensive School Plan was established. We do not have comprehensive school plan now. Another feature is that regional education councils were created in this decade, and it was intended that all provinces of Iran to have this council. In fact, it is assignment of some of education powers that took place in the decade. Another important character of the decade is that diversity of teacher training was very high, and preparations for middle school were arranged at best. For example, I served before Seyyed Kazem Akrami in Borujerd. In 1966, we were asked to pass course of MA of guidance and counseling. We were trained for the first time in guidance and counseling from 1967 to 1969 because they intended to hold middle school in 1971, or Guidance Teacher College was established in 1969; recruitment of human resources for the course had been begun two years ago. If arrangements of each project to be not done well, it would not succeed. By studying, we will realize that preparations of many plans have been taken place in this decade. Another feature is creation of Higher Education Council in this decade. This council is now in a different form and many of its powers have been assigned to Ministry of Science.

In 1956, I went to a village to teach. There, I taught mathematics and science lessons when I entered fifth and sixth grades, because I had diploma of elementary teacher college. Beside me, a person who graduated from Borujerd Agricultural Teacher College had come to teach children lessons of plants, incubation, olericulture etc. The village program was very diverse."

He added, "Professors such as Dr. Ali-Mohammad Kardan, Dr. Gholam-Hossein Shokoohi, Dr. Mashayekhi (Head of Tarbiat Moallem University), Dr. Tusi, our master the late Jalal-al-Ahmad, and ... all wanted to make change in education; then, in fact, the professors provided basis of transformation. The third point of those opportunities is that middle school was created for discovery of talent and, in my opinion, if this course was continued in its comprehensive form, link between our human forces with labor market would be better. In that decade, teachers were supported in eight ways, through Guidance Teacher College, Rural Teacher College, other Teacher Colleges, 420-hour courses and retraining classes. We had a course for training director in higher Teacher College. Commissioned by Ministry of Education, managers passed a one-year course and were trained as a training guide. I received a BA degree in elementary education and they sent me to a village and I became a teacher training guide. I taught in village, city, or teacher college. They consider different forms in order to develop better teachers. In a book that I wrote called "Organization and Rules", there are many educational contents for teacher training. Which credits were taught? What was percentage of education? What was percentage of teaching method? What was percentage of internship? Even alongside higher teacher college, we had experimental school. That experimental school was called appendix school of teacher training. This is a milestone and an interesting point. In my opinion, there were suitable opportunities in that decade, but there were a few problems. We must examine each period from both sides of opportunities and threats. Of threats one is changing managements, because management stability is necessary for realization of any kind of project. Second is duplication. I think a lot of measures have been bitter and we should not do them again and we should use past experience. Through compiling oral history, in fact, duplication to be shut down and good side of each work to be available for others in order to spend less time. Another point is that there was an orientation to technical and vocational and document of changing education system in that decade, as well as, there was a year which was called year of reforming education system."

At the end of his speech, Safi said: "In my opinion, in order to strengthen oral history, all courses should be discussed with all the important people and those who are present in the meeting. By the end of the year, we will have eight hundred thousand retirees in education. Of the one million and four hundred thousand retirees in the country, eight hundred thousand people are in Ministry of Education. Every year 50 to 60 thousand people are retired. We should use their memories, experiences and ideas. At a ceremony in Yazd, I saw a miss who has been primary school teacher for 46 years; she had worked officially 30 years and 16 years informally. They all clapped a lot for him; write and record memories of these people."


Compiling oral history is more important than academic education

Eghbal Ghasemi Pouya was the third speaker of the meeting of necessity for compiling oral history of educational system of 1340s (SH) and 1350s (SH). "I studied history and philosophy of education," he said. When I was writing my own doctoral thesis, I searched perhaps years for finding some documents and found a contact. That person took me to sixth stack of Tehran University, where entry into it is illegal. I went there and shook soil of some of documents and wrote some points so that eventually a work was came up, titled "New Schools in Qajar Period, Founder and Followers". It mentioned that there were about a thousand schools which were found during Qajar reign and then were closed. The closure increased number, not being found, because if the finding was preserved, today our prosperity was much higher. Even at the opening of schools at that time, some people were killed.

Where I searched, once I was looking for a document about new schools in Shiraz but I did not find. Somewhere else, I found the documents and asked officials to allow me to copy them, but that person said this document is one of documents that we cannot give anyone. I asked its reason, he said this document has been copied as much as that it may was burnt and it becomes unusable. He said I can only write some things by reading these documents. I told him my passion and said I did not want to destroy this document, but I want to revive it. I said I want to take this document elsewhere and recored it with today writing, information and typing to stay it for others in future. He liked my reason and gave me those documents, and I copied them and then gave back them. By using the documents I could write almost all states and provinces that the first schools were established in them during Qajar period and that what happened then until reign of Reza Shah."

Ghasemi Pouya added: "I consider developing oral history much more important than many of current academic educations. When I wanted my great professor Gholam-Hossein Shokouhi to have some meetings with me and tell me his memoirs to record them, he died. Shokouhi works are available, but his thinking cannot be extracted from those works. Ali-Mohammad Kardan died too. Oral history is describing situation, and now I would like Dr. Akrami write his ministry memories to see what happened for him, what did he want to do that some people prevented or it was not possible? What does he think now?"

He showed audience grades of his report cards, which were very low grades, and said: "I was a student during Shah and I was prisoned, and when my dear friends were in charge of ministry, they checked and cleared me two years and half. I became worker of a factory and I wrote on barrel. I was heller in elementary school, high school and university, as well as in Islamic Republic. My brother raised me; I was at ninth grade that I told him: "I do not want to study anymore." He said: "When someone gets a diploma, nobody give thing to him, what will you take, while you have studied till ninth grade?" He fastened me in a pillar and hit me as much as that I said I was wrong. He opened me and I went to school. In 1975, we were two people who were admitted in history and philosophy of education in Iran; I and Ebrahim Kazimi. I am the first doctorate in education at Tehran University in previous education system and I graduated with grade of 19.50 from 20. I got my diploma with grade 10.50 from 20, but that diploma degree was more pleasure than my doctorate degree because I worked very hard for it. After getting diploma, I could not go to university, so I went to Sepah-e Danesh. I was in fourth course of Sepah-e Danesh. I passed a four months course in Saltanat-Abad; then I became a sergeant. We made schools and roads at that time, improved health situation and established nightly akaber (adults) education organization. Once a Khan had passed the village and asked who is officer of Sepah-e Danesh here? They had said, "He is Ghasemi", he had told, "take a photo of him and give it to me. He printed my photo in Etela'at newspaper of that time and thanked me under that photo. At that time, I was only eighteen years old when I became the great in Maragheh and they said that I was pragmatic. I could not study, but I knew social and practical activities.

I was employed in education in 1965. That year my salary was 500 Tomans. When I was MA student of professor Akrami in 1971 to 1973, my teacher's salary was 1500 Tomans. These salaries were for Higher Teacher College of Sepah-e Danesh. The prices of livestock products of Teacher College were as follows: Chicken, five Tomans for one Kilo; with my salary, 500 Tomans, I could buy a kilo of chicken. An egg was three Rials. A liter of milk 12 Rials, 14 Rials for one kilo of yogurt, a kilo of cheese 7 Tomans and a kilo of butter was 17 Tomans. It is comparable how situation was at that time. After finishing our Sepah-e Danesh course and also course of White Revolution, in 1962, they announced that those who had a diploma go to Sepah-e Danesh instead of military service. I went to Sepah-e Danesh in 1964. In 1963 or 1964, some people were trained to help and guide those who went to Sepah-e Danesh in villages. I became educational guide of Sepah-e Danesh in Firoozkooh, and I went 50 villages in thirty degrees below zero, sometimes walked, as my auricle bled; we were teachers of that era. In 1999, goal of higher teacher college of Sepah-e Danesh was to train educational guide for rural Sepah-e Danesh. I saw in a document that we had 40,000 rural teachers. One of problems that I had in that period was that there were no true statistics. One of those who presented false statistics was me. In Sepah-e Danesh the law was that if in a village its students were under 20, its Sepah-e Danesh was disbanded and the students were sent to other villages. Educational guide came every three to four months. When they asked us about number of students, we said, "they are about 30 people, but now is harvesting season and they went to the farm." We raised statistics in this way! When I went to Sepah-e Danesh, about 70 to 80% of villagers were illiterate."

Ghasemi Pouya continued: "In my opinion, both in elementary education and universities, teachers of that period were low but of high quality. Jalal al-Ahmad was our literature teacher who really awakened us. He came only one semester to the classroom, but after listening to his speech, the result was several writers and some articles from our class. Dr. Jafar Mahjoub was full of ​​literature knowledge. Once in our class, he read 200 couplets which knew them and he said: "I had read this poem once in eleventh grade." Dr. Gholam-Hossein Shokouhi was a good-looking and soft-spoken young man. In our time, if we went out of library for lunch, we might not find a place to sit again. When Dr. Mashayekhi (head of Tarbiat Moallem University) interviewed me and asked which educational books I read? I said that I read all Persian books on education; he thought I was lying and then asked which book of Jalal-Al-Ahmad I had read and I told I read all his books too. When Dr. Amir-Hossein Arianpour taught in Tehran University, they came to Tehran from around Tehran and sat down next to class window so that the doctor taught. 50 years ago, 150 students gathered for three days in Mashhad, and 70 of us took Ph.D., such as Ali Alagheband, Hasan Saraei, Alireza Kiamanesh, Jafar Javadi, Parvin Kadivar, Dariush Nowroozi, Nayyere Sinaei, Hassan Kardan, who is owner of Soleiman carpet and a richman, Isa Ebrahimzadeh, Morteza Aminfar, Morteza Farhadi, Amanollah Seif, Yousef Karimi and of the presidents... were Dr. Alborzi, Dr. Birjandi and engineer Ebrahim Foyouzat."

He read list of credits which had passed during BA degree in order to discuss about contents issues at that time, and said: "In elementary period, we would go to congregational prayer, and surely in the morning Quran was read in the queue. I was against the Shah, but these measures were real. Having good English professors, I was for about twenty years English teacher."

Ghasemi Pouya continued, "If we want our students to be evolved, social issues and subjects should increase, not our science. We had 10 associations; scientific association, lecture association, the bespectacled association, education lovers, and ... constantly took us to picnic at home and abroad. If we want to student becomes a student, you must make half of credits practical. Students should enter context of social life. In 1969, I translated an article from Russian Osipov entitled "Cultural Theories in Sociology"; while I translated it in third or fourth year, but was well understandable. Student activities breed student. We did not recognize the left and the right wings, we were all together; what made us were those speakers and books. We were thirsty for learning, and therefore, expelled four professors because they did not know teaching. We can have a national and domestic model for education, but there are officials who either do not know or do not want to know how to use these models. I was retired twenty years ago, and in answer to my question, which I asked, "Now, I understand, if you retire me who will you appoint instead of me?" it was said: "I'm ordered not ordering!"

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