xv. FOREIGN AND MINORITY SCHOOLS IN PERSIA
Modern education was introduced to Persia in the 19th century by European and American religious institutions and military advisers. From 1251/1836, when the first modern elementary school was founded by the American mission in Urmia, until the early 20th century scores of foreign schools were founded by Christian missionaries, the Alliance Universelle Israélite (q.v.), and secular educators in Tehran and provincial towns. In addition, religious minorities in Persia founded modern schools. Throughout this period these foreign and minority schools provided quality education to thousands of Persians from upper- and middle-class backgrounds. Their graduates played an important part in the modernization of the country at the turn of the 20th century and remained significant in modern education in Persia until the 1930s, when the government established a national school system (see vii, above). The first blow came in 1932, when the Majles (parliament) prohibited foreign elementary schools from accepting Persian students, essentially closing them; some scholars have suggested that this measure was designed to halt the rapidly increasing enrollment of Muslims in such schools (Zirinsky, p. 134). Finally, in 1939, the government decided to take control of all remaining foreign educational establishments in Persia (Mansoori, pp. 134-35; for details of Anglo-American efforts to keep their schools open, see Sayfpūr Fāṭemī, pp. 567-77).
A. Mansoori, American Missionaries in Iran, 1834-1934, doctoral diss., Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., 1986.
N. Sayfpūr Fāṭemī, Āʾīna-ye ʿebrat, London, n.d.
M. P. Zirinsky, “A Panacea for the Ills of the Country. American Presbyterian Education in Inter-War Iran,” Iranian Studies 26/1-2, 1993, pp. 119-37.
Originally Published: December 15, 1997
Last Updated: December 9, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 2, p. 214