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01/18/12

Iran To Extend Gender Segregation To School Textbooks

By Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL

Iran's Ministry of Education has announced it will soon publish separate school textbooks for boys and girls, creating another area of gender segregation in the Islamic republic.

Iran's minister of education, Hamidrza Gadzhibabai, made the announcement during a press conference in Tehran on January 16. He said the ministry plans to publish school textbooks that reflect the country's educational system, which requires boys and girls to study at different schools.

Iran's Mehr news agency quoted Gadzhibabai as saying that in line with gender segregation in the education system, "education, training, and textbooks should be adjusted accordingly."

"In the next year, comprehensive education reforms will occur in all fields, including teachers, classes, books, and teaching methods," Gadzhibabai said, without revealing any specifics.

This latest development in gender segregation comes after the Education Ministry issued a directive in August that expanded gender separation of schoolchildren to preschools.

Gender segregation in schools was introduced in 2009 by Hojatoleslam Nabiollah Fazlali, the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology.

Fazlali criticized coed universities, saying that allowing male and female students in the same classes is like "putting meat in front of a cat."

Gender segregation has long been a feature of Iranian society. Men and women are kept separate in public places such as schools but also at private gatherings such as weddings.

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Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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