UNESCO 2030 Denounced for Undermining Independence

The Leader says education plans should not be drawn up outside the country even if proposals do not include clear cases in contravention of Islam
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei addresses university students in Tehran on June 7. Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei addresses university students in Tehran on June 7.

Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei renewed criticism of the UN's 2030 education plan, to which the government is a signatory, for limiting Iran's independence in drawing up its national education goals.  

"Some say we have reservations and that we do not accept some of its parts. One thing is clear: the education system should not be drawn up outside the country even if no clear case in contravention of Islam exists in it. However, there are instances in contravention of Islam in the document and the assumption of some people who imagine that we have not received correct reports on this issue is not correct," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

"This is Iran and the Islamic Republic and this nation is a big nation. Why should some people in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or the UN draft the education system for us?" the Leader's official website quoted him as saying in a Wednesday meeting with university students.

The United Nation's 193 member-states unanimously agreed in August 2015 on a new Sustainable Development Agenda with 17 goals to be reached by 2030.

It charts out development targets for the comity of nations  and commits UN members to mobilizing domestic resources to help attain the goals.

UNESCO has proposed the Education 2030 plan to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all," as called for in the 2030 Agenda.

Conservative opponents of recently reelected President Hassan Rouhani, under whose watch the plan was signed, seized the initiative and denounced it as being in "conflict with Islamic values" in the run-up to last month's presidential election.

  Corruptive Western Culture

Ayatollah Khamenei had previously slammed the document publicly for promoting and dictating corruptive western culture.

Rouhani later vowed that his government will safeguard Islamic values and cultural norms during the implementation of the UNESCO plan.

The moderate head of the executive branch pointed to the non-binding nature of UNESCO's proposals and said his government has made clear that it reserves the right to withdraw from parts of the plan that contradict "our religious, legal and cultural norms".

Ayatollah Khamenei, in his Wednesday speech, recommended  student associations on "religiosity and worship in deed and words" and asked them to act according to religious principles and divine responsibility.  

He also told the students to show "courage in action".

"University associations should not be kept waiting because of the concern or displeasure of some individual or institution, but should weigh all sides of the issue and go back from exactly where they realized the incorrectness of their move," the Leader said.

Describing as incorrect some remarks about the existence of "systemic corruption" in the country, he said, "Systematic corruption existed during the idolatrous [pre-revolution] era and the system obviously generated corruption. However, today, the corruption that exists, although bad, are odd instances of corruption and not systematic, but they should be countered."

Pointing to attempts to "promote western culture in the country," Ayatollah Khamenei said, "These motives exist but they will never succeed in diverting the revolution from its path."

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