Our educational policy has quarantine nature

Our educational policy has quarantine nature

Sometimes we forget that Iran geographical coordination is much beyond Tehran and big cities and all Iranian, men and women, should receive equal chance to achieve basic skills to live in modern society.

Many years have passed from active presence of private sector in educational system of country. If such cooperation had been previously in form of school building, it now requires delegating management by educational system not just ownership. The concern of Pedram Sultani and his partners in private sector in these days is to complete "Iran-e-Man[1]" 100-school project. He calls for presence of private sectors in educational policy making and believes that educational system doesn’t train forces proportionate to demands of private sectors.

The issue of responsibility taking of companies is proposed for two decades and it is even taught academically in form of courses. These days, the public sector is inclined toward private sector and surely educational system is not exceptional to this. In education, the private sectors are just active as school builder. In your opinion, how much potential does private sector have in terms of responsibility taking to enter education?

In true sense, private sector has been responsible for educational system and training of children of this country especially in past years when we have not been needless of oil revenues. When the government had not thus budget and ability and the schools were not been built as they are today, most literacy training to children has been done by private sector by the individuals and social groups who have been in different cities and areas under the leadership of the greats people of these social groups; although it has been done in traditional form and mostly mixed with religious concepts and modern sciences were not been taught, the role of private sector was highlighted. Later on when we review the history of modern schools, we see that the elite schools that have been founded in new eras were managed by private sector; it means that public schools were not that much highlighted at the beginning of schools constitution while private schools were highlighted and those graduated from these schools became the prominent figures in politics and economy. From this aspect that private sector has been the leader in education; it has much liability upon the country.

When by increase of oil revenues, the government was able to develop school building and public education system relying on this revenue, and especially before revolution and in 1960s and 1970s, some believe that the role of private sector became less; while the role of government became more highlighted. The aspect that I referred to concerning the presence of private sector in educational system has been by the sense of duty or personal necessity; although not being organized, most people in private sector has done this. If we want to compare in terms of weakness and strength, we could claim that private sector has been acted much better than government; while the outcome of the government, despite having a focused managerial system and special ministry as ministry of education and despite annual budgets, it that we still require elementary and high schools in country and the government should seriously take action and wherever there is any deficiency the private sector should work.

It seems that private sector is presence in education to somewhere however it leaves in the middle of the way. In fact, the private sector has not much targeted presence in education and just it deals with school building; while when the companies want to attract the university graduated, they try to being training their human forces training.

Since the government has not have proper policy making, we practically see that nowadays we have higher education institutions and universities whose capacity is not filled; while we have no school in many places and this means incorrect cultural and educational development. While if the government performed the same investment in development of schools and educational system in 12-year period of schooling, its effect was certainly more than what was done in higher education by offering courses that are not needed in society at all and the private sector, as the customer of this higher education system could do nothing more than this since most courses that are offered in universities are outdated or they are not proportionate to the demand of labor market of country. These individuals will unavoidably remain unemployed and our universities have turned to an institution for postponing unemployment in country and youth are called unemployed from 22 years old instead of 18 years old. Now, depending on the educational level they study in, they are hidden unemployed even until 30 years old.

In fact, the government has been defined for this mission proportionate to being government, a managerial constant system, an experienced organization with bureaucracy including people who received salary to do this for years. This mission is not them main task of private sector and its part of its secondary responsibilities; however, state court has been constituted for this purpose with such outcome that government has been much unsuccessful than private sector. Now, you can compare a sample of this system in countries such as America where higher education system is somehow private or universities are based on public partnership and except state universities, others are private. Those who are graduated immediately enter labor market and even during their education, the companies implement some competitions to identify these individuals and attract them. In fact, it is clear from this dimension that private sector has been able to act powerfully. I see many problems in educational system of country where the education system has not been able to perform its duties.

One reason is the inflexible framework in our educational system especially in a 12-year period. Compared to other organizations, institutions and ministries, we could see the worst behaviors in educational system with private sector that despite their interest in the education of children of this country, they confronts with such difficult frameworks that consider constraints even for happiness of children so it is natural that this system cannot train motivated and skilled individuals. Our 12-year education system has distanced from the required updated skills of an active literate citizen and our curriculum doesn’t help except for giving some initial information for reading and writing and any course in basic levels should contain some information but it is not obvious why this course has been designed and why it enters the system with some delay in future.

Two items should be distinguished. We could define a general educational poverty for basic age range that is the fact that students cannot learn necessary skills and they cannot perform team work, they have not thinking skill for problem solving and do not learn necessary skills such as team work, speaking or problem solving skill. Economically speaking, it seems as if poverty is relative and most people are engaged in this problem, even affluent schools of the country are to some extent confronting this issue and they are poor in terms of content. However, we have an absolute poverty; there is no school in some areas or the ceiling of the school is falling. It seems that private sector could enter both areas and it is true that it has not been defined anywhere and ministry of education has not practiced such cooperation. 

This is not a practice. It seems that some security thinking governs our educational system. Even we have experienced that the certified books that we donate are not distributed. It seems that schools are permitted to enter a special limited number of books to educational system and others are not appropriate; while the same books have got certification from another ministry that is governmental. In fact, such issues disappoint those who have concerns of education. The view of education to private sector is solely material. In some aspects, as the statistics show, private sector has surpassed the governmental sector in construction of schools and, indeed, it is done in chamber of commerce and associated unions; however, the educational system doesn’t welcome intellectual interaction with private sector, neither in 12-year education not in higher education. Overseas, even in England and Germany, the elite managers of private sector are present in board of directors or board of trustee and they are the one who say what are the deficiencies of these fields and what are the needs of industrial society and what deficiencies could be predicted and practically some measures are considered for the universities which oblige them to conform themselves with the demands of private sector since the opposite means their weakness and inefficiency.

What evaluating system do we have in our universities except ISI papers and the number of faculty members? While such evaluations and measures are outdated in other countries for many years. Previously, we hold conferences and university and industry interactions which yielded some achievements although shallow compared to the disappointing condition of our educational system. Unemployment rate in educated generation is two times more than average rate. Naturally, the policy makers should have what concerns more important than making fundamental changes and why they do not make them? Here I say our educational system is a blistered system, a system where change and reformation are hardly done. If there is any interaction between education organization and private sector is just for financial needs. We should train some skills but we do not have the budget and the private sector should pay for it or in industrial complexes hold training sessions and implicitly pay for it; while human resource should be previously trained in educational system.

Private sector could be active in complementary activities of education system. In fact, various economic sectors, especially, the industry sector, could train its required human resources by being present in educational system so that they will reach higher efficiency and productivity.  

If you mean that any independent industrial unit interfere in training his human resources, this is not common and in other countries, the big and multinational companies with 10,000 workforces have their own educational system or technical schools with highlighted interaction with educational system. In our country, this has occurred in smaller scales; however, the enterprises of private sector are small and small and medium enterprises do not perform such tasks by themselves and such works are done collectively. In our country, the mechanism of cooperation with educational system has been defined by intermediate entries and institutions called charity institutions. However, in my opinion, it is not bad and could have good structure on the condition that it is not just materially considered and there is some policy making view in it.

What does chamber of commerce has done for training its required workforce in various economic sectors?

Chamber of commerce has in-service training for his employees the same as most medium enterprises; however, we have research and training institution and scientific and applied educational institution for demand of private sector. One of the main gaps in private sector and the whole country is lack of educated managerial forces that is now being hold by cooperation of local and foreign universities by chamber of commerce. When we study the significance and deficiencies in educational levels, we realize that managerial sector needs more efficient human resources since if we intend the economy going toward modern economy, an educated manager should manage it not an experimental and traditional manager. Moreover, if small enterprises want to become medium enterprise, it is not possible by management of a traditional manager so we are investing there. This is done in skill increase of workforce and we have felt this gap and in several conferences we said that our educational system doesn’t train forces proportionate to our needs; however, the solution is not that we continuously establish universities since in the current condition, universities just have expenses. Private sector should participate in policy making of universities and then we could pay for the costs and expenses.

On the occasion of the Second Conference of Educational Justice and Development, you referred in a note to the systematic entrance of economic enterprises for educational poverty alleviation of kids and mentioned that their systematic entrance should be facilitated. On the other hand, educational poverty alleviation could have both software and hardware aspects.

Now, in order to prepare the ground for systematic entrance, what chamber of commerce should do, in your opinion, and on the other hand what its corresponding entity, i.e. education system, should do?

In promoting the concept and framework of social responsibility between economic enterprises, the chamber of commerce is obliged and it has done something and intends to develop it. If small and medium enterprises could have synergy, they could perform bigger tasks. In fact, as we do trade networking of our country and other countries, we could have social responsibility networking. For enhancement of the presence of private sector in this area, we could make encouraging system. In this period, we intend to define social responsibility framework in chamber of commerce and create some competition among enterprises; those who consider standards will receive some medals on that this economic activist performs its social responsibility in various dimensions. Concerning social responsibility, we perform promotional works and chamber of commerce has direct participation in social responsibility as far as it is permitted. In this period, the chamber intends to get ISO 26000 and conform itself with the responsibilities of a responsible organization.

What should ministry of education do, in your opinion, to achieve better outcome?

Ministry of education should remove this solely material view of private sector; it should give some opportunities to private sector to enter educational policy making and this policy making should not be abstract and quarantined. However, this approach is not just concerning private sector; one should notice how educational system uses the contribution of other sectors such as art sector or social activities for policy making. Anyway, since private sector has more financial role than other areas, its expectations are more so an efficient workforce will be trained; private sector will enhance and the country will develop. Ministry of education should change the inflexible and rigid framework it has injected to his body.

Published in Educational Justice and Development special issue of World of Economy newspaper


[1] My Iran