The spread of English in Iran and its status in the country has led supreme leader Ali Khamenei and moderate president Hassan Rouhani to express ‘differing viewpoints’ on the status of English in the Islamic Republic, according to Al Monitor news agency.
In a speech to Iranian teachers in early May, Khamenei (pictured in framed photo at left) described the current ‘promotion’ of English in Iranian schools – including in some kindergartens – as an example of a scheme by an ‘international hegemonic system’ which he said was led by the US, Israel and other ‘hostile’ nations. The plot envisaged by Khamenei had ‘designs to change the culture of Iran’s youth into one that is not Islamic and indigenous’, he was quoted as saying. He clarified that he was not opposed to learning foreign languages, only to its effect on ‘children, adolescents and youth’.
Rouhani (above, waving – he and Khamenei are rarely seen together) referred to Khamenei’s comments in a speech two days later, noting that Iranians learning ‘other languages of the world’ has ‘opened a new window of science, knowledge and understanding of the world to them’. He gave the example of India’s success in the global IT sector thanks to its command of English, adding that learning languages will ‘create more jobs’.
Al Monitor reported that ‘conservative media’ and Iranian officials appeared to support Khamenei’s view, criticising Rouhani’s ‘simplistic assumptions’ about language learning. Conservative member of parliament Mohammad Nabavian denounced Rouhani as influenced by the ‘consultations of the Westoxified’, those ‘struck’ or intoxicated by the West, where many of the Cabinet went to university.
A British man who hosted foreign students for ten years has been sentenced to six and half years in prison for sexual offences involving children. Alan Haldane, 62, a builder from Hastings in Sussex on the south coast of England, admitted to sixteen offences including using a hidden video camera to take indecent images of French and German students in the shower. Haldane was also found guilty of the sexual abuse of three British girls aged between three and ten.
The East London School of English Ltd (ELSE) in Aldgate, London closed suddenly on 29 April, leaving seventeen staff without jobs. A last-minute attempt to organise a management buyout to save the school failed. All students have been found places in other schools through the English UK Student Emergency Support Scheme.