Education and Schools in Iran
A major challenge for expats moving to Iran with children will be in finding a suitable school. Choosing the appropriate school will have a significant impact on the child’s transition to expat life in Iran.
Education is highly valued in Iranian society and children are pressured to perform well academically. Consequently, the literacy rate throughout the country is high. In Iran, mainstream schooling begins at kindergarten and ends in grade 12. While high school is not mandatory, students who wish to enter higher education need a high school diploma and must pass the Iranian University Entrance Exam.
Public schools in Iran
Public education in Iran is highly centralised and monitored by the Ministry of Education. Persian, or Farsi, is the language of instruction at public schools in Iran. The lack of English instruction limits the viability of public schooling for most expat children.
Primary school (Dabestân) starts at grade one at the age of six and continues for five years. Middle school (Râhnamâyi) is from the sixth to eighth grades and is where English is introduced as a foreign language. High school (Dabirestân) is a further three years of study but is not compulsory in Iran.
Private schools in Iran
A number of small private schools operate in Iran. Although they charge higher fees and offer a better standard of teaching, they still follow the national curriculum as determined by the Iranian Ministry of Education and the language of instruction is in Persian/Farsi.
International schools in Iran
Most expats opt to send their children to international schools in Iran, most of which will be found in Tehran. While there are a handful of local children that attend these schools, the student body overwhelmingly consists of international expat students.
International schools in Iran follow a variety of curricula. There are schools which follow models from the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan as well as a number of schools which offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. The major advantage of international schools for expat children is that these schools provide similar standards of schooling to those found at home, providing for an easier transition.
Admission procedures vary from school to school and space is often limited so it is always best to apply as far in advance as possible. Fees tend to be expensive but standards of teaching are generally excellent, class sizes are small and the facilities are first rate.
*Since 2011, a large number of the international schools in Iran have closed. Some have begun reopening, but it is best to check with the relevant embassy to find out about suitable schooling options.