Promise Timeline
This promise was made Post-Election

Instructing literature of minority languages in schools


In an effort to address minority rights as a national issue, Hassan Rouhani reinvigorated the debate during his electoral campaign and promised to implement an ethnic language national teaching plan across schools and universities.

While Persian-also known as Farsi– is the official national language of the Islamic Republic of Iran, ethnic minorities, including those who belong to the Azeri, Kurd, Lur and Gilak ethnicities, speak their own languages and dialects. However, due to the lack of will from the central government, they have not been able to officially teach and publish in their ethnic languages.

During the first year of Rouhani’s government some cabinet members, facilitated debates and dialogues between government institutions and assemblies on linguistic rights. Amongst these entities were the Academy of Persian Language and Literature. Certain members of the Academy were appalled by this initiative, and viewed it as a threat against the Persian language.

It was only in February of 2015 that the debate took a practical turn. A Kurdish language and literature textbook was published and added to the curriculum of a small school in the Saqqez County of Kurdistan province. This was an unexpected ray of hope for activists in their long struggle for minority rights.

In August 2015 and while visiting Kurdistan province, President Rouhani announced that from the beginning of the coming school year, the University of Kurdistan, in Sanandaj, would launch a four-year Kurdish Language and Literature program. Weeks later, Rashid Ghorbani, the Director of Education of the Kurdistan province, said that one-third of books in Persian Literature of the first three years of university would be in Kurdish language. The university further announced that on its first year, the program would enroll forty university students.

While skepticism remains high regarding the implementation of the Ministry’s plan in Kurdistan and across the country, this new development is a testament to Rouhani’s cabinet efforts to fulfill their campaign promises. The future might still be blurry for minority rights activists. However, this step marks an important milestone in the struggle against linguistic rights in Iran.

Promise Timeline

Keeping you up-to-date on all changes made to this promise.

March 3

High schools in the city of Saghez in Iran’s Kurdistan province have started teaching Kurdish literature, using a text book written by local teachers. According to the book’s colophon it is approved by the Ministry of Education and its provincial bureaus.