As you read this 18 million children are being taught by almost one million teachers in 113,000 single sex primary and secondary schools throughout Iran.
The schools tend to be strict and the classes depend a lot on memorisation and repetition, but they have delivered a very high literacy rate (77%). However, with so many students, the system is under enormous pressure. Teachers are poorly paid and most have extra jobs to make ends meet, leaving them with little energy to inspire students. Though there is no corporal punishment, there is a strong emphasis on discipline and some pupils complain that their schools are like prisons.
Islamic classes are compulsory for all throughout their schooling, and many children protest that there is so much religious teaching that ordinary subjects suffer. All pupils are required to attend lunch time ‘Namaz’ (Islamic prayers) or risk losing marks, affecting their overall grade. This puts Christian children from a Muslim background under a great deal of pressure.
Pupils from ethnic Christian minorities like Armenians and Assyrians also live with pressures children should not have to face. Some teachers warn Muslim pupils that Christians are ‘Najes’, meaning they are unclean, and instruct them to wash their hands if they make physical contact with them. Despite this, Christian children have been a witness in their schools and some Iranian believers trace their interest in Christ back to a school friend.
Throughout history, great works of God have started in schools. So can we today lift up these 113,000 schools before the Lord?
- Pray for all the principals who have so much responsibility. Pray especially that they will have a gentle heart towards the few children who are Christian. Pray for the teachers – that the Lord will give them patience and imagination. Pray that their morale will be boosted and they will teach with enthusiasm.
- Pray for the children who are tired of religious instruction. Pray they will not resent God, but rather become thirsty to find Him.
- Pray that Christian children will experience Christ’s presence in the schools. Pray they will be a bold witness and that their response to harsh treatment will speak of God’s grace and love and that the Gospel will spread through these schools.
- In the war with Iraq, the government recruited school children to fight with promises of paradise. Pray against any such exploitation of youth.
We deeply appreciate your prayers.