By the end of the nineteenth century it became evident to Iran's ruling Qajar elite that the state's contribution to the promotion of modern education in the country was unable to meet the growing expectations set by Iranian society. Although modern schools were established by foreign religious missions in Iran as early as the 1830s, these were limited mainly to Christian areas and communities and were far from meeting the growing demands of the majority Shi'i population for modern education. Muzaffar al-Din Shah sought to remedy this situation by permitting the entry of the private sector into the field of modern education. In 1899, the Madreseh-ye Tarbiyat, the first Baha'i school, was established in Tehran. The Baha'is were in the twentieth century a significant religious minority in Iran, but traditionally underepresented and often persecuted. By the 1930s there were dozens of Baha'i schools, single-sex primary, secondary and pre-schools. Their high standards of education drew many non-Baha'i students from all sections of society. The Baha'is saw this as an opportunity to bring recognition to and expansion for their community and a means to establish themselves in the open as a minority as well as fulfilling their religious duty of educating their children. Here for the first time, Soli Shahvar assesses these 'forgotten schools' and investigates why they proved so popular not only with Baha'is, but Zoroastrians, Jews and especially Muslims. Shahvar explains why they were closed by the reformist Riza Shah in the late 1930s and the subsequent fragility of the Baha'is position in Iran.
The Baha'Is and Modern Education in Iran, 1899-1934
Education & Reference /