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In Iran, Kurdish language now offered in schools

Kurdish student in Iran. Photo: RadioZamaneh
Kurdish student in Iran. Photo: RadioZamaneh
By Fuad Haqiqi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— Students in Iranian Kurdistan now have the option of choosing Kurdish as part of their high school and college coursework following a decision to include the language as an elective in schools across the ethnically Kurdish regions of Western Iran.

The University of Sanandaj, one of the largest Kurdish cities in Iran, announced last month a new department will admit students for further studies in Kurdish for the academic year starting in September.

“The new department will be called the Department of Kurdish Language and Literature and will in the first year be able to receive up to 30 students,” said Fardin Akhlaqian, the university chancellor.

Akhlaqian said the new department will also provide students with an optional course in Kurdish which can be included in their overall university credits.

The provision of academic studies in Kurdish follow an earlier move by authorities to allow Kurdish as a separate language at secondary schools in the city of Saqiz, some 200km north of Sanandaj.

“Lessons in Kurdish” (Waney Kurdy) is the name of a 82-page book that is intended to enhance high school students’ knowledge of their mother tongue. With over 5,000 copies sold in a single city, the interest for Kurdish seems to have been higher than expected, local education officials said.

“According to the constitution, the entire curriculum should be taught in Kurdish, and not just one subject,” said Zahid Arami, a teacher in Kurdish language in Iran who sees the new book as a “mere supplement” to the Persian books used in high school.

Although Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution allows Kurdish and other spoken languages in the country to be used as languages of study, it has been increasingly difficult to implement the article since the constitution was approved in a referendum in October 1979.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani announced as part of his election campaign last year that his government would implement the article. Many believe the new curriculum decision follows a petition signed by 10,000 Kurds which urged the moderate president to fulfill his campaign promise.

“We have prepared materials for Kurdish university studies as of now,” says one university lecturer in Sanandaj who wished to remain anonymous.

“We have asked a number of university professors to prepare themselves for the new academic year,” he said, adding that he feared authorities may “change their minds.”

Sceptics say similar attempts were made in 2005 when then-president Muhammad Khatami tried to support Kurdish studies at university level without success. The courses were cancelled only days before the planned launch.

Iran is home to an estimated 10 million Kurds who live predominantly in the western parts of the country.

Iran’s state TV and radio broadcast in Persian, the official language of the country, with some portions of the programs dedicated to other languages, including Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish. 


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Total Destruction | 25/4/2015
May an earthquake destroy chauvinist -islamic state of Iran altogether.Curse on chauvinists and Islamists,they are pure terror.
Morteza | 25/4/2015
10 Million Kurds in Iran are underprivileged and underrepresented. The living situation of Kurds needs to improve. The Islamic Republic has not yet engaged in constructive peaceful dialogue with Iranian Kurdish opposition groups.
Rahimpour | 25/4/2015
I wonder why in countries such as Iran, Turkey, Syria enough attention is not paid to foreign languages specially, ENGLISH. English Language should be added to the National Curriculums. In Pakistan, a high school student is able to speak English fluently. In Iraq, it got even better during and in the wake of war breakout. Tens of thousands of high school and university students and teachers rushed to learn and improve their English Language. They found decent-paying translator positions with the US Army for many years. It was very much appreciated. It was a good source of income to support their families. I could say 80% of Indians are highly proficient in simple English language but English literature. In Kurdistan, youths attend private languages classes and take important English such as: TOEFL and ESOL on their own expenses online. They usually add that as on their CVS for employment purpose. They love to walk into Malls and practice their English language with Americans. In Iran, Youths and students all over borrow CDs, Videos and learning materials and self-study despite government restrictions.
mam kemal | 25/4/2015
Those who state the Kurdish region is under-developed need to realize this fact. The occupiers are always better off than the those under occupation. It does not matter who is the occupier and who is the occupied people. The occupiers will always be more educated, richer, and having better jobs.
love summer | 25/4/2015
Iran is also under the watch so soon or later will be gone just like those before them. Any country that doesn't give equal rights and justices to its people will never be a successful country and their people will one day turn against them and will get rid of them. What and who GAVE YOU the right to say what i can and cant study ? WHAT and WHO GAVE YOU the right to say what i can and cant wear ? I dont tell you what to wear, what to study, so WHO gave you the rights to give me my rights ? Their are Government rules and their are other rules created to shut down, slave and destroy people with and people will not accept those...

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