From September onwards, Iranian high school students will have a new subject on the timetable: the youth will be learning to detect and bring down foreign drones. This new addition to the curriculum has been announced by the Basij militia, part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, just days after President Rouhani’s reformist nominee for Education Minister was rejected by the Iranian parliament.
Iranian hardliners have long sought a larger role for the military in the country’s education system: students at both junior and senior high schools currently take courses focusing on “civil defence.” Now the teenage generation will be taught how to hack the computer systems of drones in order to bring them down.
With Rouhani’s Education nominee, Mohammad-Ali Najafi, rejected by the conservative parliament due to fears that he was too reform-minded, it seems it is the hardliners’ voice that is being heard in the sphere of education. Whichever man is now selected as the new Education Minister, it is clear firstly that he will be a conservative thinker, and secondly that the Revolutionary Guard – under the direct authority of supreme leader Ayatollah Khamanei- will now have more of a part to play in Iran’s education system. This is a worrisome development for Iran’s religious minority communities, including Iran’s Christians, and a reason to pray.