Theocratic Education in Pictures


Khodi Kaviani


Examining the school curriculum used in today’s Islamic Republic of Iran reveal a disturbing attempt by the theocracy to impose its values on the entire population of Iran. This study reveals how schools have become a tool for indoctrination by the government to recruit young members to serve as Basij (mass mobilization force) in upholding this Shi’i theocracy. Images used to illustrate the textbooks show how segregation of boys and girls are normalized and justified through Islamic teaching. A democratic government with tolerant citizens can allow for different religious practices to exist within a multicultural framework. However, an Islamic theocracy is inherently incapable of accepting any ideas that it perceives as a competition or challenge to its rule.


5 thoughts on “Theocratic Education in Pictures”

  1. It is devastating to view how children are forced to abide by religious ideals and are not encouraged to construct their own knowledge and opinions. It was especially shocking that seventh graders are told that natural bodily functions invalidate the practice of “vozoo”. I feel fortunate to reside in a country that abides by democratic principles.

    Thank you Dr Kaviani for taking the time to create this eye opening presentation that allowed me to view education through a different lens.

  2. Hi Dr. Kaviani. Thank you for sharing this information with us.
    Indoctrination has been normalized in most or all communist countries. All these books are made to only serve the interest of the leaders not for the people to be educated themselves. For example, when you mentioned the creation of Basij forces, the message that I interpreted was that the Iranian government only wants to create a Jihadist generation (fighters under the name of God) and not an educated human being that should develop critical thinking behaviors. They are afraid of having an educated population because they know that the people will create a revolution against them if they do. The worst part of all is that some people are okay with it. For example, in Morocco when the government decided to remove Islamic education from the curriculum, people started to protest. They wanted to keep this type of education involved in schools. Some people don’t really want to have their child develop critical thinking skills and all they want is to submit to whatever Islam or any other religion is teaching them (it is considered a big “sin” if you have a critical thought about the religion).
    Also, when you mentioned “Arab” clothes or dresses, I was surprised because in Morocco we call those types of clothes Afgan cloth and not Arab clothes. Morocco never had people dressed the way they do now (a lot of women are all covered and men are also weirdly dressed). Not only that, the Moroccan government banned Hijab in some of the workforces BUT women were against that and they made a protest showing their support to the “Jihadist clothes”.
    It is scary how this way of indoctrination is fast spreading.

  3. Genavive Anderson

    What time are you presenting? This topic absolutely fascinates me as an me as a student of the American public education system. I have mostly been taught about the middle east as a monolith and by biased news media.

  4. Thank you for sharing this window into how public education has changed in Iran after its transition from a monarchy to a theocracy! Given the continued tensions within the US regarding the incorporation of conservative Christian values in public school policies, I think this is important information to consider. Also relevant is the current “war for the soul of the republican party.” Will large numbers of republicans reframe their allegiance as to a person, Trump, a religious ideology, Christianity, or the preservation of democratic principles for a diverse but united country?

  5. It was impactful to see the influence that the transition to Islamic theocracy had on Iran. Viewing the differences in textbook images before and after 1979 allowed me to consider how indoctrination is occurring both subtly and blatantly. This presentation was a reminder to exercise critical consciousness and question social norms/ rhetoric if you have the privilege to do so.

    I am interested in learning more about the social justice advocacy groups in Iran and how they navigate a restrictive government system.

    I also wonder how those who have unconsciously suffered from indoctrination become aware of their experience and go about shaping their own ideals.

    Thanks for this informative presentation.

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