Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, condemned the Iranian government of Hassan Rouhani for supporting a UNESCO education agreement. Khamenei stated that the Rouhani administration has been ratifying this agreement in secret and that the agreement is against Islamic teachings.
On 7 May 2017 Khamenei in a meeting with Iranian teachers and university professors, rendered an agenda proposed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) void saying that Iran will not submit to such an agreement.
UNESCO 2030, that has angered the Iranian leader, is not an agreement to be signed or ratified but an agenda for member states who pledge to work together to sustain education for all genders and marginalized groups from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Claiming that such agenda is a tool at the hands of the Western superpowers, the leader of the Islamic Republic said: “Why should a so-called International community that is definitely infiltrated by the superpowers, have the right to make decisions for the nations of the world with various cultures?”
It is unclear whether the Iranian government will stop supporting UNESCO inside Iran. There is an Ethics Teachers’ Training Course in Karaj, Iran, organized by UNESCO scheduled for July 2017 as part of the UNESCO 2030 program which has not yet been cancelled.
Why is the Iranian supreme leader so furious about the UNESCO 2030 educational agenda?
In September 2015 Sustainable Development Summit was held at the at the United Nations in which member states including Iran formally adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” containing 17 goals including a new global education goal named SDG4.
It is SDG4 and articles within it that deal with human rights and discrimination that has made the Iranian supreme leader infuriated.
By supporting SDG4 member states agree to provide for an “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Member states, including Iran, have agreed that by 2030 they will try and “eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable.”
Making education available to all minorities, including persons living with disabilities, is also a goal of the agenda.
The leader of IRI in his speech for the teachers argues that enemy state through UNESCO 2030 agenda are trying to infiltrate Iranian culture: “It is the Islamic Republic here! Here Islam is the benchmark. Quran is the benchmark. It is not a place where the deficient, destructive and corrupt Western lifestyle can infiltrate.”
Mashregh News that is closely affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has also voiced criticism towards the UNESCO 2030 pinpointing an article in the agenda that is about promotion of peace.
The newspaper states that an agenda for regional peace is pro-Israel agenda. It further notes that international bodies like the United Nations – trough UNESCO 2030 – want to conduct statistical research in Iran and gather data to be used against IRI.
Sadollah Nasiri Gheydari, Secretary-General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, has been a vocal supporter of the UNESCO 2030 educational agenda. He has voiced concerns that without monitoring, analysis and evaluation of the status quo, achieving SDG4 goals in Iran is difficult.
Other Iranian conservative media organizations have also stated that human rights and gender equality is a pretext for United Nations pressuring Iran by using the SDG4 agreement.
Mashregh News writes that “promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity” as stated in SDG4 is a pretext for infiltration of Iran by enemy states and their agents.
On May 19th Iranian will go to the polls to vote for the next president. Rouhani is running for re-election. Khamenei’s harsh criticisms of Rouhani’s moderate government 12 days to the election is read as a sign by hardliners who affirm closer allegiances with the leader.