Education and Schools in Iran
A major challenge for expats moving to Iran with children will be finding a suitable school. Choosing the appropriate school will have a significant impact on the child’s transition to expat life in Iran.
Education is highly valued in Iranian society. This leads to children being pressured to perform well academically. Consequently, the literacy rate throughout the country is high.
Primary education is compulsory. Schools in Iran are also generally single-sex, with boys and girls going to separate schools. Mainstream schooling begins at kindergarten and ends in grade 12. While high school is not mandatory, students who wish to enter higher education need a high school diploma and must pass the Iranian University Entrance Exam.
Public schools in Iran
Public education in Iran is highly centralised and monitored by the Ministry of Education. Public primary education is free. However, Persian, or Farsi, is the language of instruction at public schools in Iran. The lack of English instruction limits the viability of public schooling for most expat children.
Primary school (Dabestân) starts at grade one at the age of six and continues for five years. Middle school (Râhnamâyi) runs from grade six to eight. This is where English is introduced as a foreign language. High school (Dabirestân) is a further three years of study but is not compulsory in Iran.
Private schools in Iran
A number of small private schools operate in Iran. These schools charge high fees but offer a better standard of teaching. However, they still follow the national curriculum as determined by the Iranian Ministry of Education. Typically, the language of instruction is also Persian/Farsi.
International schools in Iran
Most expats opt to send their children to international schools in Iran. Most of these schools are found in Tehran. While there are a handful of local children that attend these schools, the student body overwhelmingly consists of international expat students.
International schools in Iran follow a variety of curricula. There are schools that follow models from the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan. There are also a number of schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. The language of instruction will depend on the curriculum followed. The major advantage of international schools for expat children is that these schools provide similar standards of schooling to those found at home. This provides an easier transition for children.
Admission procedures vary from school to school. Space is often limited. It is therefore always best to apply as far in advance as possible. Fees tend to be expensive but standards of teaching are generally excellent, class sizes are small and the facilities are first rate.