However, not everyone can afford to continue formal schooling, so some young people are apprenticed with a master and learn on the job, at the same time getting paid for helping around the workshop. As in the past, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, coppersmiths, carpenters, tailors, barbers/hairdressers, musicians, and all traditional handicraft artists transfer their skills to the young in this way.
Schooling is organized into primary (years 1–5), lower secondary or guidance school (years 6–8), upper secondary (years 9–11), and one preuniversity year. School attendance is compulsory from ages six through fourteen (eight school years), and at the end of year eleven students are awarded a high school diploma.
The emphasis is mainly on rote learning; every question has only one right answer (see the discussion of uncertainty avoidance in chapter 11). In the minds of many Iranians, learning is the same as memorizing, except for mathematics, which is taught to a very advanced level. The marking of examinations and class assessments is out of a high of twenty, although recently “descriptive” assessments (excellent, very good, good, moderate, and poor) have been introduced in primary schools. Generally, a student needs to score at least ten out of twenty marks in every subject to progress to the next class. If students don’t achieve that score by the end of the school year, they can retake the examination at the beginning of the next school year and sometimes midyear in January/ February after having already progressed to the next class.
The school year is concentrated into nine months, September 23 to May 21, with the final examinations between May 22 and June 21. The only extended holiday during the school year is Noruz (March 20 to April 2), with the occasional day off here and there. This means that the summer holiday is twelve weeks long, during which time children and youngsters often attend “leisure” classes they don’t have time for in the school year, such as swimming, drawing, dance, music, or foreign language classes