Less than a month after his re-election, President Hassan Rouhani has confirmed a notable concession to the Supreme Leader, quashing Iran’s involvement in a UN initiative for global education.
In a brief announcement on Tuesday, Rouhani said the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution had establish the “Document of Fundamental Reforms in Education” as the base for the Iranian system.
That innocuous wording covered Iran’s withdrawal from the UN’s Global Education 2030
, an initiative launched in September 2015 for “inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all”.
Iranian officials had worked with the UN’s educational organization UNESCO for implementation, with Rouhani meeting UNESCO head Irini Bukova. However, on May 7, the Supreme Leader made a pointed intervention in the Presidential campaign to curb any Rouhani second term.
It is the Islamic Republic here. Here Islam is the benchmark! The Quran is the benchmark. It is not a place where the deficient, destructive and corrupt Western lifestyle can infiltrate….The UNESCO 2030 education agenda and the like are not agendas that the Islamic Republic of Iran should have to surrender and submit to.
While Rouhani won an unexpectedly large victory against the candidate of the Supreme Leader’s office, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, Ayatollah Khamenei had boxed in the President. Khamenei attacked the SCCR for adopting the Education 2030 agenda and said that it must atone for the error.
In careful language, Rouhani’s statement on Tuesday confirmed that atonement: “Any document or statement inconsistent with the Fundamental Document is abolished.”
Rouhani’s opponents are hoping for a repetition of the process after the President’s first election in 2013, with his promises to open Iran’s political and cultural space largely unfulfilled. Many political prisoners — including opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard — are still detained, and the Government’s efforts for freer communications have been curbed.
TOP PHOTO: President Rouhani at the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution, June 13, 2017