When a language disappears, the tradition, memories, and unique way of thinking of the people who speak it, disappears. A language disappears every fortnight according to UNESCO.
Iran is a country with high cultural diversity which includes religions, ethnicities, and languages. Despite this, when children attend school for the first time, they are obliged to learn the Persian language regardless of their linguistic background, placing non-Persian speaking children at a disadvantage.
According to a report by the Research Centre of the Iranian parliament, most of the five million children who have failed their exams over the past six years are children whose mother tongue is not Persian.
Mother tongue education has been a divisive issue that has been debated by the executive and the parliament for years in Iran.
No child should be discriminated against based on their language, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The constitution in Iran – article 15 and 19 to be precise – emphasises the importance of mother tongue education for children. The Islamic Republic has also signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is thus obliged to respect these international agreements.
However, the overwhelming majority of children whose mother tongue is not Persian are not able to read and write in their mother tongue.
The authorities in Iran have repeatedly persecuted and imprisoned activists who campaign for mother tongue education.