MESOP TODAY: Iran approved Kurdish studies, but finding teachers is a problem

August 30, 2014 – By Nasir Piroti – Rudaw –  SINE, Iranian Kurdistan,— The Iranian government has approved Kurdish language university studies in Kurdistan province, but academic authorities say they will have to struggle to find teachers, in a county where the language and culture have been repressed for decades.After the Iranian government recently approved the studies, Kurdistan governor Abdulmuhamed Zahidi told reporters that Kurdish language courses would open at universities in the province in the near future.

But Qorbanali Sadeqi, vice president of Kurdistan University in Sanandaj (Sina in Kurdish), said that the university is unable to open a Kurdish department anytime soon: he said there are no language teachers and experts. Sadeqi said there was not a single professor expert in Kurdish language and literature at his own institution. Sadeqi added that a committee is studying how to get a department rolling.

The lack of teachers, despite a Kurdish minority population of some 7 million in Iran, is due to the repressive policies of successive rulers in Iran.

The Iranian constitution allows that other languages, besides Persian, be used in publications and schools. But that has never been implemented, despite demands by Kurds. The governor told reporters that the government had approved Kurdish studies to fulfill a long-standing local demand for greater respect for the Kurdish language.Tehran has good reason to try to placate its repressed Kurds, who reside in the country’s most deprived regions. The Iranian government is feeling the heat from its Kurdish populations, following unfulfilled promises by a president elected last year for greater ethnic rights. The approval for language studies may be a small concession to long-standing Kurdish demands for greater cultural recognition. Tehran is worried about events across its Kurdish borders, where the Kurds in Iraq and Syria are running their own affairs with growing autonomy and confidence, and have uneasily come together with the Kurds of Turkey in the war against the Islamic State. The decision on allowing university courses comes a decade after it was made. Higher education authorities in the Kurdistan Region have said they are ready to offer teachers for Iran, if asked.