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Source: RFE/RL

Aug 29, 2023

Iranian Student Group Publishes Memo Showing Official Push For Gender-Segregated Classes

A student group says officials at Ferdowsi University in the city of Mashhad have decided to segregate classes by gender for the upcoming school year.

The Student Guild Councils of Iran published photos on August 28 showing an internal memo approved by Abolfazl Ghaffari, the school's vice president for cultural, social, and student affairs, that outlines the implementation of the plan, which was sent to the dean of the Mathematics Department and will be issued to other department heads as well.

In the directive, Ghaffari references a decision by Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which mandates the observance of Islamic guidelines in educational settings, endorsing the separation of male and female students in classes.

Gender segregation has long been a contentious issue at Iranian universities.

Over the past four decades, various university facilities, including cafeterias and libraries, have seen the implementation of the gender-segregation policy, sparking protests from students. Some universities have even been established exclusively for one gender.

Despite these measures, specialized course classrooms have largely remained co-ed, primarily due to opposition from the academic community and financial constraints.

In the 1980s, Iranian universities implemented a system where classes were divided by a curtain to separate male and female students. This measure faced opposition from Ali Khamenei, who was then president and is now Iran's supreme leader.

Over the past two decades, Khamenei has consistently stressed the importance of "Islamizing universities" and has advocated against the organization of "mixed-gender recreational camps" in his addresses.Universities and students have long been at the forefront of the struggle for greater social and political freedoms in Iran.

In 1999, students protested the closure of a reformist daily newspaper, prompting a brutal raid on the dorms of Tehran University that left one student dead.

Over the years, the authorities have arrested student activists and leaders, sentencing them to prison and banning them from studying.

The activist HRANA news agency says at least 700 university students have been arrested during the recent unrest.

Many have faced sentences such as imprisonment and flogging, and dozens of students have been expelled from universities or suspended from their studies, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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