Economy, Domestic Economy

The Lucrative Business of Concours

The sector dealing with Concours has a turnover of 80 trillion rials ($2 billion) per year.The sector dealing with Concours has a turnover of 80 trillion rials ($2 billion) per year.

Preparatory classes and mock exams are held for students preparing to take the university entrance exam, better known in Iran as Concours.

These are no longer limited to high school years anymore, as many educational organizations and institutions have targeted elementary school students and doctoral program candidates as well, Financial Tribune’s sister publication Tejarat-e Farda reported.

The Concours fever remains unbelievably high among Iranian people. A wide range of organizations promise candidates that if they buy their products or attend their classes, they will not need to study the source books.

The university entrance exam was supposed to asses students based on their knowledge and skills they have acquired through the years of education in different levels, but students practically spend some important years of their education on only preparing for attending the 3-4-hour exam instead of acquiring knowledge.

In fact, experts have long disputed the adequacy of this exam for assessing candidates’ knowledge and aptitude.

In recent months, authorities once again raised the issue and the necessity of getting rid of Concours once and for all.

Science Minister Mansour Gholami has said that abolishing the university entrance exam is a priority for the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology.

Secretary of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, Mohammad Reza Mokhber, also believes that scrapping the exam is the only way to rescue Iran’s education system.

Now that experts and authorities unanimously criticize the exam and say that in no developed country is there such an exam (which is not completely true), then why is there still resistance against abolishing the exam and keeping the status quo?

“The sector dealing with Concours has a turnover of 80 trillion rials ($2 billion) [per year], so there are people who don’t let Concours to be abolished,” Farhad Rahbar, the president of Islamic Azad University, said.

Aside from referring to the issue that many people greatly benefit financially from Concours classes, mock exams and publications, Gholamreza Zarifian, an official with the Ministry of Science, believes the real problem lies in finding an appropriate alternative for the university entrance exam.

“If Concours is abolished without introducing a viable alternative, then the problems regarding assessing candidates still persist and the mafia would still operate in a different form. Eventually, we might jump out of the frying pan into the fire and face a less trustworthy system,” he said.

Concours has created a plethora of job opportunities. Instructors, question designers, organizers of conferences, classes and mock examinations, educational and school counselors, print house workers, electronic educational tool and smartphone application designers and many more are thriving on the back of Concours.

The exam is held in five groups, namely mathematical sciences, science, humanities, arts and foreign languages in 372 counties across the country.

Since it was established in the Iranian year starting on March 21, 1969, the multiple-choice exam has been geared to select students for Iranian universities equitably.

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