• 8 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Culture, Events in Iran, Iranian Youth

The Elimination of the Concour: Better Late than Never

For some time now, education policymakers in Iran have debated the necessity of the infamous Concour examinations for university admissions. After several years, Iran has decided to implement guidelines that would do away with these compulsory university entrance examinations.

For the majority of Iranian students, this dreaded exam is a one-way ticket to the bottom of the financial ladder. Of the 1.3 million people that take it, only 10% score high enough to place into public sector work or graduate programs. This means the majority of the population of young adults in Iran are left to fend for themselves in a miserable job market with over 25% youth unemployment.  So what does this mean for Iran’s future? Nothing good.

The success of a nation depends on the education, perseverance, and intelligence of its youth. In Iran, 65% of the population are under the age of 30, and approximately 31% of the youth are uneducated beyond high school. This along with Iran’s skyrocketing inflation and increased international isolation is a recipe for economic, social, and political disaster.

Iran’s decision to abolish the concour examinations is a great step in the right direction but is it too late? The structure of the concour has for decades sculpted mechanical thinking amongst white collar workers, who happen to make up the political and economic aristocracy of Iran. These elites have enforced rigid, impractical, and costly regulations on the Iranian people. They have isolated Iran from the rest of the world and are presently building walls not bridges with Iran’s neighbors and other critical nations. With the elimination of the concour, Iran may yet have hope for an educational revival among its population.

By promoting the education of young adults with a wide-range of skills, experiences, and opinions, Iran and the Iranian people are building up hope for a brighter future.  Let’s hope we’ll see more of this type of reform coming out of Iran in 2009.

Posted By Sahar Jooshani

    One Response to “The Elimination of the Concour: Better Late than Never”

  1. Disagree says:

    I have to disagree. Iran is not the only country to have tough college-entrance exams for state schools. England, France, other European and Asian countries have similar practices and it has led all of them, including Iran, to allow their brightest and smartest to study at the best institutions (sounds fair).

    If you want to open up the education system in Iran, look at private or public-private partnerships combined with zero/low-interest student loans to open up access for others…

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



Share this with your friends: