A Comparative Study of the UNESCO 2030 agenda with the Fundamental Transformational Document of Iran’s Education

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 Ph.D. Student, Department of Educational Science, Sari Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sari, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Science, Sari Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sari, Iran

10.22034/ijce.2022.252024.1228

Abstract

Establishment of Islamic Republic of Iran has affected the process of accepting international documents in the field of education. The aim of research was to make a comparative study of the UNESCO 2030 agenda with the “Fundamental Transformational Document of Iran’s Education” in terms of similarities and differences. Research method is comparatively qualitative and method of data collection and analysis is documentary and content analysis respectively. The first finding of the research reveals that the differences between the two documents are much greater than the similarities, so that out of 17 components, there is disagreement between the designers of the two documents in 14 components. Another finding indicates fundamental differences between the ideology and educational philosophy of two documents in areas such as the scope of education, values, and approach to achieving educational goals. Also in the 2030 document, gender equality is emphasized in all its quantitative and qualitative dimensions, while authors of the “F Fundamental Transformational Document of Iran’s Education” do not believe in the equality of men and women in the qualitative dimension of education. Another finding is that the “Fundamental Reform Document of Iran’s Education” promotes gender stereotypes that are not accepted in the 2030 Document by respecting roles such as spouse and mother and determining the type of Hijab for women. In addition, the 2030 document publicly opposes the ideological foundations of the Iran’s Document by recognizing the types of sex and acceptance of LGBT people. These findings show that differences between ideologies in the drafting and approval of national and international documents can pose practical challenges to policymakers and planners in the education system

Highlights

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Keywords

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Article Title [فارسی]

بررسی تطبیقی سند 2030 یونسکو با سند تحول بنیادین آموزش وپرورش ایران

Authors [فارسی]

  • محمد حسین فرخی نیا 1
  • سیده عصمت رسولی 2
  • لادن سلیمی 2
1 دانشجوی دکترا، گروه علوم تربیتی، واحد ساری، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، ساری، ایران
2 استادیار، گروه علوم تربیتی، واحد ساری، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، ساری، ایران
Abstract [فارسی]

استقرار حکومت جمهوری اسلامی در ایران بر روند پذیرش اسناد بین المللی در حوزه آموزش اثر گذاشته است. هدف تحقیق حاضر بررسی تطبیقی سند2030یونسکو با سندتحول بنیادین آموزش و پرورش ایران  از منظر شباهت ها و تفاوت ها است. روش تحقیق ، تطبیقی کیفی ، روش جمع آوری داده ها ، استنادی و روش تحلیل داده ها ، تحلیل محتوی تفاهم می باشد. نخستین یافته تحقیق آشکار ساخت تفاوت های دو سند بسیار بیشتر از شباهت بین آنها است ،به نحوی که از بین 17 مولفه ، در 14 مولفه اختلاف نظر بین طراحان دو سند وجود دارد. یافته دیگر نشانگر تفاوت های بنیانی بین ایدئولوژی و فلسفه تربیتی حاکم بر دو سند در حوزه هایی همچون گستره تربیت ، ارزش ها ، و رویکرد تحقق اهداف تربیتی است. هم چنین در سند 2030 ، برابری جنسی در هر دو بعد کمی و کیفی آن مورد تاکید قرار گرفته در حالی که طراحان سند تحول اعتقادی به برابری زن و مرد در بعد کیفی آموزش ندارند. دیگر یافته تحقیق نشانگر آن است که سند تحول با ارج گذاری به نقش هایی همچون همسر و مادر و تعیین نوع پوشش برای زنان ، کلیشه های جنسیتی را که مورد قبول سند 2030 نمی باشد ، ترویج می نماید. علاوه بر این، سند 2030 با به رسمیت شناسی انواع رابطه جنسی و پذیرش دگرباشان ، بنحو علنی با بنیان های ایدئولوژیک سند تحول به مخالفت بر می خیزد.  این یافته ها نشان می دهند که اختلاف بین ایدئولوژی ها در تدوین و تصویب اسناد ملی و بین المللی می تواند سیاست گزاران و برنامه ریزان نظام آموزشی را با چالش های عملی روبرو سازند.  

Keywords [فارسی]

  • سند تحول بنیادین آموزش و پرورش
  • سند2030یونسکو
  • فلسفه تربیت
  • آموزش جنسی
  • اسناد بین المللی
  1. Introduction

              One of the concerns of policymakers in educational systems is to adapt national documents to the standards of international organizations documents and to identify similarity and differences between them. Policymakers and planners in preparing and formulating the goals and missions of the education system, in addition to local, regional and national values ​​and norms, generally pay attention to international standards. Although this sensitivity is not mandatory, global conditions and the emergence of phenomena such as "education as national wealth" (Spalletti, 2014), "globalization" (Robertson, Novelli, Dale, Tikly, Dachi, & Alphonce, 2007), "education as an essential element in economic competition"( Režný, Buchanan White & Marešová, 2019) and" Bridge Education for Peace "( Price 2019) have led States to commit themselves to engaging with international society in the process of preparing, drafting and approving national documents (Saunders, 2020). In fact, the above-mentioned phenomena put so much pressure on governments that policymakers - especially in the cultural sphere - are inevitably influenced by the general policies of international organizations and the global consensus on common issues (Hoyos & Angel-Urdinola, 2017). At the same time, in some countries, distinguished political, cultural and religious features have made process of adaptation very difficult for policy-making institutions (Ghamami & Moghaddami Khamami, 2019). Iran is in this situation. Over the past four decades and in the tense region of Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Iran - as a Shiite Muslim country with a population of over 80 million - has witnessed many political, social, cultural and educational developments (Sajjadpour & Bin Taliblou, 2015). After the victory of the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s, the Iran constitution explicitly stated the rule of Islamic principles - and especially the Shiite interpretation of it - in all social systems. In the meantime, the educational system was considered by clerics and politicians more than other social systems, so that it was decided that all educational documents and laws, programs, textbooks, and activities of school principals and teachers should be focused on religious education (Irvani 2014). Thus, one of the first measures that the two powerful religious and political systems of Iran have sought to implement since the 1980s has been to transform the educational system through the approval of upstream documents.

To achieve this goal, it took about three decades (1985-2011) preparation, approval and implementation of the most important national document entitled “Fundamental Transformational Document of Iran’s Education (hereafter FTDIE)" (Research Center of the Islamic Parliament, 2020). The final version of FTDIE was prepared for the first time by the Higher Council of Education - which is the main body for the preparation and initial approval of the education system rule and regulations-, after hundreds of specialized meetings and was approved in 2011 by other legislative authorities - such as the Cultural Revolution Council, the Cabinet, the Islamic parliament and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic (Cultural Revolution Council, 2011). Accordingly, the Ministry of Education was obliged to carry out all its activities in various fields - including the acceptance and approval of documents of international forums - within the framework of the FTDIE document (Marzooqi, Aghili & Mehrvarz, 2016). In other words, the acceptance, approval and implementation of any educational program and activity at all levels - local, national, regional or international - can take place when these programs do not conflict with the FTDIE. This is one side of the coin.

On the other side of the coin is the fact that international organizations and forums - according to their goals - mainly draw up and approve various documents - for joint action by member states. Iran has a long history of membership in many international organizations. One of the effective organizations in educational policies - of which Iran has been a member since 1948 - is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (National Commission for UNESCO- Iran, 2020). As the most important reference for preparing, approving and proposing educational programs in the world - such as the "Education for All" program and the "Millennium Development Goals" - this organization has tried to identify and propose effective solutions to global education issues. In this process, despite the great progress of member states, the realization of some UNESCO goals and access to its indicators for various reasons has not been possible within the deadline (Wanner, 2015). This is especially true of achieving the goals of the “Education for All” document. In 2015, a new UNESCO document entitled "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" and abbreviated as a "UNESCO 2030 agenda” with a broader scope and tasks than previous programs was prepared (UNESCO, 2017). In this regard, the Heads of Government, specialized agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) came together and approved the agenda of "Sustainable Development 2030" (UN, 2020). Member states also pledged to work together at national, regional and global levels to achieve the main goal of the document - to make the world a better place by 2030. Also, in order to achieve the goals of the 2030 document, member states committed to prepare and ratify the "2030 Domestic Document" at the national level (OECD 2016).

In Iran, in order to fulfill this task, the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the "National Commission for UNESCO", formed 30 working groups to pursue the goals of the 2030 agenda (National Commission for UNESCO, 2016). This commission determined 60 national indicators for the implementation of the 2030 agenda and made it public in 2016. In different parts of this document - while stating the framework of global action- , the current situation of the Iran educational system and existing gaps and necessary strategies for the implementation of the 2030 agenda were explained. But before any action could be taken, the contents of the document met with strong reactions from politicians. The main part of these objections was the opposition citing the conflict between the content of the 2030 agenda with FTDIE (Solgi & Karimi, 2019). However, these reactions led to the cancellation of the 2030 national document from the programs and activities of the Ministry of Education.

Given this brief introduction, the current researchers' assumption is that comparative research - such as the present study - helps international policymakers understand the challenges facing national policymakers. The research also shows national policymakers and planners what joint global action is being taken to address common issues. Thus, coordination with the goals of international documents contributes to the national and regional position of countries on the world stage. Based on this thought, the purpose of this study is to examine the provisions of the 2030 document and the FTDIE from a comparative perspective. Since the goals stated in the 2030 UNESCO agenda have a wide range, in the present study, only the educational philosophy and the two fourth and fifth goals of this document are compared with the FTDIE document. The sub-objectives of the research are:

  • Identification and explanation of educational similarities between the 2030 agenda and the FTDIE
  • Identification and explanation of educational differences between the 2030 agenda and the FTDIE

Before presenting the results of the present study, it is necessary to refer to the findings of some selected studies - which have been conducted in different countries as well as Iran. The latest report from the Iraqi UNESCO Commission highlights obstacles such as traditional gender roles and norms, family education, and poverty in achieving the goals of the 2030 agenda (UNESCO, 2021). Also, recently, the United Nations University, in collaboration with the International Institute for Global Health (2020), sought to provide a comprehensive model of sex education for Malaysian students by examining the experience of Muslim countries. They found that selected countries faced several similar challenges in implementing sex education - such as anti-sex religious beliefs, insufficient number of trained teachers, and an uncertain and fragmented curriculum. Razafski & Bartniksak (2019) to determine the status of implementation of the goals of the UNESCO 2030 document in Poland recognized that without effective governance at the national, regional and local levels, achieving the goals of sustainable development is not possible. At the same time, the two researchers showed that the implementation of the 2030 document in Poland was at a favorable level, so that out of 73 indicators, in 57 indicators, the expected changes were positive. Schneider et al. (2019) emphasize that the production of knowledge related to sustainable development requires interaction with social norms and values. Shortly after the adoption of the UNESCO 2030 agenda, the experts of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tried to answer two basic questions: First, what knowledge, skills, attitudes and values ​​do students need to develop and shape their world, and second, how Education systems can effectively develop this knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. Accordingly, they address the three major environmental, economic and social challenges of societies (OECD, 2018). In conferences with the participation of 19 Arab countries during the two years 2017-2018 in Dubai, participants tried to examine the opportunities and challenges of the goals of the UNESCO 2030 agenda. By agreeing on the content of the document, they considered the political conflicts in the region as the most important obstacle to achieving UNESCO goals (Arab Regional Support Group for Education 2030, 2018).

This issue has also been considered by Iranian researchers. For example, Solgi & Karimi (2020) by examining the position of the family and the role of women in the UNESCO 2030 agenda believed that its implementation will cause irreparable damage to Iranian and Islamic cultures. The two researchers also emphasize that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved the goals of the UNESCO 2030 agenda - from ​​quantitative dimension of education and gender equality - by providing 99% access to education for girls, But it is not clear how Iran’s government wants to resolve the conflicts of the UNESCO 2030 agenda with the values ​​governing national documents - such as FTDIE - and the qualitative aspects of education (Solgi & Karimi, 2020). Mohseni & Ahmadi Beighsh (2019) believe that the past performance of UNESCO shows that this organization  puts pressure on member states, and Therefore, the acceptance of the 2030 document by the Iran’s government means the acceptance of these pressures. The UNESCO 2030 agenda defines justice as synonymous with equality for women and men in all areas, including education, while the authors of the FTDIE believe in a fair distribution of education tailored to the different needs and roles of woman and man. Ghamami & Moghaddami Khomeini (2019) believed that the statements measuring the development of societies in the UNESCO 2030 document did not agree with the socio-cultural frameworks of Iran - as a religious country. Farmahini Farahani, Rafiei Atani, Gholami, Maleki, et al (2018) indicated that the UNESCO 2030 document is inspired by the school of secularism, which is contrary to divine education. Also, in their view, the concept of "global citizen" - emphasized in the UNESCO 2030 document- is contrary to the concept of "divine citizen", who considers man to be subject to God. Jahanian (2018) with a pessimistic view believes that the purpose of the UNESCO 2030 document is the continuation of the Westernization project, a roadmap for globalization and the rule of capitalism with the help of the United Nations. Of course, these criticisms are not limited to the UNESCO 2030 document, and some Iranian researchers have criticized the upstream documents of the Iran education system. For example, in their critique of the FTDIE, Saffar Heydari & Hosseinnejad (2014) argue that this document emphasizes the ideological element of religion too much and seeks to create a religious identity for Iranian pupils. In a nutshell, while researchers in other countries are largely in favor of implementing the UNESCO 2030 document and its goals, Iranian researchers have largely gathered evidence against this document, largely influenced by the government's negative stance on the UNESCO agenda. The aim of the present researchers is to compare the two documents, regardless of personal, religious and political tendencies.

 

  1. Research Method

 

        The method of the present study is qualitatively comparative with the content analysis approach. Researchers used documentary method to collect data and identification of primary (UNESCO 2030 agenda and FTDIE) and secondary sources (books, articles, reports, etc.). To find related resources , Iranian information sites such as MagIran; Noormag and ISC and international search engines such as Google Scholar , ERIC and Boolean approach (Cheng and Philip, 2014) - using keywords in the title and abstract - were used to select sources (n = 50). Researchers also have used the correlative content analysis method for analyze the data and John Stuart Mill's four-step method of agreements and differences for present the results (Madandar Arani & Kakia, 2020).

 

  1. Findings

 

       This section consists of four parts: In the description section, the content of both selected documents is briefly explained. In the interpretation section, readers are introduced to the social, political, cultural, and educational contexts of the ratification of each document separately. The third part is dedicated to the juxtaposition of two documents from the perspective of social systems affecting their creation. In the final part, researchers have tried to show the most important similarities and differences between the two documents according to the previous three steps.

 

First) Description Stage

A: UNESCO2030 agenda

In September 2015, at the UN High Level Summit, the leaders of the member states pledged to implement the goals of the Global Sustainable Development 2030 global agenda - the outcome of a comprehensive global consultation process - in their national macro-policy from 1 January 2016. The UNESCO 2030 agenda has 17 main objectives, 169 specific objectives and 91 important statements (UNESCO, 2021). The document also addresses issues such as poverty, hunger, violence, corruption, trafficking, peace, justice, sustainable management of natural resources, health promotion, drinking water supply, empowerment of women and girls, cultural diversity, protection of vulnerable groups, democracy, development of rural areas, development of general and technical & vocational education, promotion of understanding, and job creation (National Commission for UNESCO, 2016). In addition, in order to evaluate and implement the commitments and ensure the establishment of strong political and legal policy frameworks - which underpin the achievement of the 2030 goals - it was decided that member states would actively review their education system in order to localize the objectives of the document. In the field of education, the 2030 document considers the following as the main commitment of member states:

 

  • Efforts by the education system to attract excluded, at-risk, and marginalized individuals
  • Ensuring the elimination of gender inequalities in the education system due to cultural and social biases
  • Develop policies based on respect for the rights of women and men in the education system
  • Eliminate discrimination and gender stereotypes based on violence in educational institutions
  • Pay special attention to unacceptable gender norms in the international community, such as child marriage and early pregnancy
  • Ensure textbook review and oversight of teachers' teaching to prevent the promotion of gender stereotypes (OECD 2018).

 

  1. B) FTDIE

The “Fundamental Reform Document of Iran’s Education”( FTDIE) includes 8 macro goals, 14 strategic goals, 30 values, 23 operational goals, 119 strategies and 49 basic propositions (Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, 2011). In the fifth chapter of this document, 8 major goals of the Iran education system are set. These goals are:

 

  • Educate human beings who are faithful and creative in Islamic morality, questioning, creative, healthy, free-spirited, law-abiding, peaceful, patriotic, world-thinking, brave and responsible
  • Promoting public culture and laying the groundwork for the formation of Islamic-Iranian civilization, loyalty to the system of Islamic Republic of Iran, and belief in the principle of Velayat-e-Faqih and religious democracy
  • Comprehensive expansion and provision of educational justice
  • Establishing an effective and efficient human resource management system
  • Increase comprehensive participation in the formal and public education system
  • Improvement and transformation in physical, financial and technological infrastructures
  • Improving productivity and increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the formal and public education system
  • Gaining the first educational position in region and the Islamic world and increasing the promotion of Iran's educational position in the world

 

The authors of the FTDIE also have emphasized on important issues such as the realization of Hayat Tayyeba (a noble life ) - as the main mission of the educational system -, role of the teacher - as the most effective element in the evolution of the educational system - , effective presence of clerics in school affairs, prioritizing the provision and allocation of resources to elementary school, strengthening the tendency to teach and promote Persian language and literature as a common language of Iranians, practical commitment to Velayat-e-Faqih, defending oppressed Muslims, respecting divine religions and strengthening human relations with their followers, discovering the capabilities of nature and wise responsible exploitation of natural resources, and teaching the observance of Islamic dress (Jafari Harandi, Vafaei & Alipour, 2019).

 

Second) Interpretation Stage

  In this stage, the role of social factors that have provided the necessary background and space for the preparation and approval of these two documents is briefly mentioned:

 

A: UNESCO2030 agenda

Over the past half century, most countries have faced many challenges such as poverty, hunger, unemployment, lack of education, war, gender inequality, loss of natural resources, and environmental pollution. In addition to national action, global participation is needed to address many of these challenges. Thus, for global joint action, the establishment of international organizations - as an advisory arm - was considered by nations and governments (Reynalda 2001). The establishment of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations was a key step in identifying common humanitarian crises and identifying possible solutions. Accordingly, since the 1960s, UNESCO has endeavored to document the commitment of member state leaders to make fundamental decisions to reduce societal challenges such as education and gender equality - according to the local, regional and national requirements of each country (UNESCO, 2014a). In the last step, the UNESCO 2030 agenda and its 17 goals were prepared and compiled according to the joint meetings of the leaders of the member states and the will of the majority. In this regard, member states were required to prepare their national document in various fields and submit it to the relevant institutions for approval. However, the implementation of the provisions of this document is not mandatory and member states can implement or ignore parts of it (Dekarva & Golasen 2017). Education is one of the seventeen parts of the United Nations Sustainable Development Program. The UN program states that by 2030, all 192 member states should provide equal opportunities - high quality and lifelong public education - for all residents, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, tribe or age. In 2016, the Government of Iran published its education program entitled "Towards Quality, Equal and Inclusive Lifelong Teaching and Learning: National Education Document 2030 of the Islamic Republic of Iran" (National Commission for UNESCO-Iran 2016). The document was more than 300 pages long and its titles were similar to those set by the United Nations.

 

  1. B) FTDIE

          The occurrence of Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s was the source of extensive changes in various dimensions of Iranian society. One of the influential areas that witnessed changes from the very beginning of the victory of the revolution is the educational system. In fact, the revolutionaries believed that the educational system was severely "Westernized" and in conflict with Iranian culture and Islamic education (Manasheri, 2018). According to them, from the perspective of educational philosophy, the educational system of previous regime followed non-religious schools such as secularism, humanism, feminism and materialism, which have fundamental differences with Islam in areas such as theology, epistemology, anthropology, and axiology (Saffar Heydari & Saffar Heydari, 2019). Accordingly, the revolutionaries first tried to change the content of the school textbooks. They also made changes in the way teachers are hired and in school extracurricular activities. However, these reforms did not reflect the broad goals of the new political system in the field of education (Marzooqi 2018). Therefore, the preparation of a national document that guides the activities of the Ministry of Education at all levels of formal public education (except higher education) was approved by the government at the time. The preparation and compilation of the FTDIE document took 26 years and from 2011 it was notified to the Ministry of Education for implementation. The content of the document indicates that the centralized education system of Iran should consider the goals, executive plans and operational strategies of the document in all its activities - such as textbook, teacher training, school management, teaching methods and extracurricular activities.

  1. C) Juxtaposition Stage

In the juxtaposition stage, the data related to the content analysis of the two documents are presented in more detail. It should also be noted that in the present study, only the education part of the UNESCO 2030 agenda has been considered by researchers:

 

Before paying attention to the educational goals, it is necessary to state the philosophical principles governing the UNESCO 2030 document, which are mentioned in its introduction. Data analysis shows that the success of all human beings is the main goal of the UNESCO 2030 document. Humanity, human well-being, and human development are fundamental concepts that are frequently repeated in this document. Therefore, according to the document designers, people are the main goal of development. To achieve this goal, the two approaches of good governance and social capital - with emphasis on participation at different levels of local, regional, national and global - have been considered by UNESCO policymakers (Jahanian, 2018). It also emphasizes issues such as earth conservation, expansion of peaceful societies, seeking security and free from fear and violence. On the contrary, the results related to the analysis of the philosophical foundations of the FTDIE show that its main and pivotal concept is "God" and its main purpose is divine education (Azari Jahromi, 2018). Also, to achieve this goal, two approaches to God's rule and acceptance of the principle of Velayat-e-Faqih have been used as criteria. Thus, the FTDIE emphasizes concepts such as good life, religious identity, Islamic values, seeking justice, defending the oppressed Muslims, fighting the enemies of religion, and establishing an Islamic government (Fani, 2020).

 

The analysis of the 2030 document shows that its goals can be divided into four groups: Economic (such as poverty reduction), social (education and gender equality), cultural (justice & peace) and environmental goals (environmental change) (UNESCO 2018). According to this classification, the objectives of the present study in the 2030 document are the fourth objective (i.e. ensuring quality, equal and inclusive education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all); and the fifth goal (i.e. achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls). An analysis of the content of the 2030 document and its two complementary documents, the Incheon Document and the Action Framework Document, shows that UNESCO's interpretation of the concepts of educational equality and gender equality means that the organization calls for the equality of all human beings - regardless of gender factor. UNESCO emphasizes the equality of all girls and boys in the content of school textbooks, extracurricular activities and the choice of fields of study. Thus, in this document, the concept of equality is considered equivalent to absolute equality. In this regard, UNESCO also insists on the elimination of various interpretations of the concept of equality. Paragraph 20 of the Framework for Action explicitly states that education systems must explicitly address gender bias and discrimination based on cultural / social beliefs and practices and economic status in order to ensure gender equality (UNESCO, 2018). This recommendation indicates that the authors of the UNESCO 2030 agenda do not believe in the individual differences between men and women in achieving different dimensions of education. Contrary to this view, paragraph 16 of the FTDIE document's value statement speaks of the keyword "educational justice" instead of "educational equality". Accordingly, educational justice in quantitative, universal and mandatory dimensions and qualitative justice with respect to individual, gender, cultural and geographical differences is one of the valuable propositions of the formal education system of the country (Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, 2011). In other words, the authors of the FTDIE believe quantitative equality of education for girls and boys, but do not accept their qualitative equality in education.

Another concept hidden in the fourth and fifth goals of the 2030 document is the negation of gender stereotypes in the qualitative dimension of education (UNESCO, 2014b). In fact, this is not just a request of UNESCO and has been emphasized in other UN documents. For the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for example, gender stereotypes are a general or presumptuous view of the characteristics and indicators that should be played by women and men or the roles they should play. These stereotypes prevent men and women from realizing their abilities, fulfilling their desires and aspirations, carrying out specialized tasks, and choosing the lifestyle they want (High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2014). All this shows that UNESCO in the 2030 document completely denies the role of gender - in any form - in the right to access education. In a trend contrary to UNESCO goals, the FTDIE - largely based on the principles of Shiite Imami jurisprudence - emphasizes the distinctive features of women from men. In fact, according to the authors of the FTDIE, paying attention to individual differences between girls and boys happens to mean justice, because educational programs are tailored to the needs and roles of each gender (Raouf Malayeri, Beheshti, Eskandari & Abbaspour, 2019). In this situation, it is obvious that the fundamental difference between the authors of the two documents is due to their different interpretations of gender stereotypes.

 

Another point that is implicitly emphasized about gender equality in the UNESCO 2030 document is the recognition of LGBT people. Indeed, member states that have ratified the UNESCO agenda have implicitly recognized the right of LGBT people to access education - in all its dimensions (Mills, 2015), a right that is also emphasized in other UN documents (United Nations, 2018). On the contrary, the FTDIE does not mention the rights of LGBT people at all, and in principle, according to Islam, these groups are not recognized at all. The last issue of the challenge hidden in the fourth and fifth goals of the UNESCO 2030 document is the emphasis on increasing students' sexual knowledge. In fact, it is the right of children, adolescents and young people to complete their sexual information - at different ages and in an evolutionary process. Therefore, educational systems are obliged to prepare and regulate the formal curriculum, the content of textbooks and extracurricular activities in a way that contains topics such as sexual identity, body anatomy and reproductive health, sexual communication methods and sexually transmitted diseases, prevention methods, pregnancy, delivery methods, and sexual rights. It is clear that early sex education for children, adolescents and young people is taboo in many human societies and is not accepted by social, cultural and religious norms and values ​​(Robinson, Smith & Davis, 2017). However, factors such as globalization, migration, tourism boom, and development of communication and information technologies - especially the Internet and virtual social networks - have eroded the power of these values ​​among the younger generation (Eunice & Solistorum, 2020). However, an analysis of the content of the FTDIE shows that it does not make the slightest reference to sex education. Obviously, this does not mean that Iranian students are not familiar with the anatomy of the human body in school textbooks. Conversely, in the primary school (science textbooks of Grade 5 & 6), the junior high school (science textbook of Grade 9), and in higher secondary school (biology textbook of Grades 10, 11, and 12), there is relatively comprehensive information on genitals, egg function and sperm, and childbirth and fetal growth. According to what has been said, now it is possible to prepare the juxtaposition tables of both documents in two sections of educational philosophy and gender:

 

Table 1: Juxtaposition of the 2030 document and FTDIE in term of philosophy of education

FTDIE

2030 document

Components

Prominent

Prominent

Human position

Human happiness& Sublimation

Human happiness & Sublimation

Purpose of Education

Worldly life and the hereafter

Worldly life

Scope of Education

Religious

 

Global & based on humanity

Human identity

Islamic

Based on humanity

Values

God's rule / acceptance of the principle of Velayat-e-Faqih

Good governance / social capital

Approach to achieving the goal

Establishing universal justice

Peacekeeping / Increasing Security

Basis of relationships with others

Spread Islam, defend Muslims and the oppressed

Expand international understanding

Relationship approach with others

 

 

 

Table 2: Juxtaposition of the 2030 document and FTDIE in term of gender

FTDIE

2030 document

Components

Gender equality

Gender equality

Goal of education base on gender

Justice

 

Equality

Interpretation of Goal

 

Quantitative

Quantitative and qualitative

Coverage of Goal

Natural - Social

Natural

Concept of gender

Acceptable

Not accepted

Individual differences

Not accepted

Acceptable

Sexual diversity

Different

Same & similar

Gender-based social rights

Not accepted

acceptable

Need for sex education

Not accepted

acceptable

Comprehensiveness of sex education

 

  1. D) Comparison Stage

 

The results of this stage indicate that there are few similarities and many differences between the selected documents in both areas of philosophy of education and gender (Table 3). The data in the table show that out of 17 components related to educational philosophy as well as gender, there are similarities between the two documents in only three components. The first similarity is the authors' emphasis on the high position of mankind, although the intellectual source of this position in the 2030 document is the philosophy of humanism and in the FTDIE is Islamic ideology. The second similarity refers to the purpose of education so that human happiness and sublimation can be realized from various dimensions. The third similarity of both documents is the realization of gender equality through education, although in both documents this concept and its interpretation are mentioned in a general and ambiguous way. The results also show that out of 17 components, in 14 components there are fundamental differences between the views of the authors of the two documents. For example, the scope of education in the FTDIE includes education related to worldly and otherworldly life. Also, in this document, the status of each person is determined based on her/his religious identity, and other types of identity (ethnic, linguistic, national) are not valued much. In addition, the goal-setting approach in the UNESCO 2030 document is determined by the role of good rulers - rulers elected in a democratically elected process - and social capital - through a variety of popular participation that shapes the nation-state relationship. On the contrary, the FTDIE emphasizes that all human beings are servants of God (the God-slave relationship) who communicate their instructions to the people through religious leaders in all matters, including gender relationship and life.

 

Table 3: Similarities and differences of selected documents based on the approach of John Stuart Mill

FTDIE

2030 document

Components

*

*

Human position

*

*

Purpose of Education

*

Scope of Education

*

Human identity

*

Values

*

Approach to achieving the goal

*

Basis of relationships with others

*

Relationship approach with others

*

*

Goals of Education base on gender

*

Interpretation of Goal

*

Coverage of Goal

*

Concept of gender

*

Individual differences

*

Sexual diversity

*

Gender-based social rights

*

Need for sex education

*

Comprehensiveness of sex education

 

In the subject of education for men and women, ideological differences between the authors of the two documents are increasing. This difference is reflected in the very first step, the goal of education and the concept of equality between the sexes. While the drafters of the 2030 document have made every effort to ensure full equality between girls and boys in all aspects of the education system, the FTDIE believes only in equality of access to the right to education. To be more precise, in the intellectual system of the designers of the FTDIE, equality means in the form of recognizing the religious differences between men and women. This definition is automatically extended to the inherent, social, and legal differences between the sexes. For example, while according to the ideological principles governing the 2030 document, both sexes are completely equal and free in choosing their clothes and interfering in the type of clothing is strictly forbidden, the FTDIE emphasizes the observance of Islamic hijab by all female students - regardless of their religion. All female teachers and pupils are required to wear the Islamic hijab. In addition, the authors of FTDIE do not mention a single word about other forms of gender, such as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). At the same time, the need for sex education for the young generation should be delayed as much as possible, and this education should not necessarily include issues such as contraception education, abortion, and same-sex relationships.

 

  1. Conclusion

 

          The aim of this study was to highlight the similarities and differences between an international document inspired by humanist and feminist values ​​(UNESCO 2030 agenda) and a national document (FTDIE) influenced by Shiite Islamic ideology. The first research finding reveals that the similarities between the two documents are far less than the differences. This finding is well emphasized in the researches of Salgi & Karimi (2020), Ghamami & Moghaddami Khomeini (2019), Yadalahi, Zarei & Yavari (2019), Mohseni & Ahmadi Beighsh (2019), Farmahini Farahani, (2018) and Jahanian (2018). Another finding of the study indicates the fundamental differences between the ideology and philosophy of education that prevail in the minds of producers in dimensions such as the scope of education, values, and approach to achieving educational goals. This finding is consistent with the results of previous research (Farmahini Farahani, 2018; Jahanian, 2018; Marzooqi, 2018). One of the most important findings of the research is that in the UNESCO 2030 document, gender equality is emphasized in all its quantitative and qualitative dimensions, while the FTDIE do not believe in the equality of men and women in all areas of life, including the qualitative dimension of education. The authors of the FTDIE explicitly emphasize the design and development of educational programs appropriate for girls and boys and the observance of the requirements of their gender identity. In fact, in the political and educational systems of Iran, the differences in the natural aspects of the body of men and women have been generalized to their social aspects. This finding supports results of previous researches of Raouf Malayeri et al (2019); Yadalahi, Zarei & Yavari, (2019); Mohseni & Ahmadi Beighsh, (2019). Another finding of the research is that the FTDIE promotes gender stereotypes that are not accepted in the UNESCO 2030 agenda by respecting roles such as spouse and mother and determining the type of dress for women. The 2030 document also publicly opposes the FTDIE and its ideological foundations by generalizing the type of sex and accepting LGBT people. This finding which has been considered in Fani (2020) and Ghamami & Moghaddami Khomeini (2020) researches, forms the most critical problem between the two documents. Findings of Schneider et al (2019), Razkontski & Ratkins (2019) and Mills (2015) also show that the main goal of UNESCO is to empower all women and girls and their active presence in all areas of life - including work as President or judge - while UNESCO's main goal is to empower all women and girls and allow their active presence in all walks of life - including work as a president or judge -, while the ideological foundations of the Iran education system do not allow women to enter some occupations. In a brief conclusion, it can be said that the Iran education system is required to follow the principles and rules that are based on Imami jurisprudence and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. Accordingly, the acceptance and implementation of the UNESCO 2030 agenda will be challenged in many social systems, including the education system.

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Volume 5, Issue 2
May 2022
Pages 1850-1870
  • Receive Date: 09 October 2020
  • Revise Date: 04 May 2021
  • Accept Date: 09 March 2022
  • First Publish Date: 11 March 2022