The Value of Learning in Iran

  July 20, 2022   Read time 1 min
The Value of Learning in Iran
Until the founding of the University of Tehran in 1934, doctors, engineers, and university graduates got their degrees in the West, mostly France. Only the (male) offspring of the privileged classes and the aristocracy had access to higher education abroad.

A higher degree and the titles of Doctor and Mohandes (engineer) were indicative of privilege of birth and financial status at a time when the vast majority of the population was either illiterate or barely literate.

This class/educational divide continued until the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, when an extensive program of adult literacy was launched and higher education aspirations were encouraged in young people who would never have dreamed of it even a few years previously. Thirty years on, the pattern is reversed: illiteracy is almost eradicated, but many university graduates cannot find jobs commensurate with their qualifications. Some proceed to postgraduate study while others find jobs unrelated to their degrees.

Despite the number of college graduates, a degree is still seen as a passport to better job and marriage prospects, and a higher quality of life. Many young people take the concour (college entrance exams) each year, with slightly more women being admitted than men in the recent past. A degree from Europe or the U.S. is still seen as prestigious and desirable, and you may find that many Iranians will be interested in where and what you studied, and what the educational system is like in your country.