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The easing of tensions between Iran and Western powers under President Hassan Rouhani has created positive conditions for growth in the country’s small international school sector, which is centred on the capital Tehran.
Iran has four schools that are authorised to teach International Baccalaureate programmes as well as embassy schools offering the curriculums of France, Germany, Japan, Pakistan and India, with the latter two now catering to children of diverse nationalities. Of the four IB World Schools, three use English as the medium of instruction and one, the large Mehr-e-Taban International School in the south-western city of Shiraz, which has separate campuses for boys and girls, is authorised to teach all three IB programmes.
Tehran International School, which also has separate boys’ and girls’ campuses, offers the IB Diploma programme. The Shahid Mahdavi International School for girls is authorised to deliver the IB middle years programme, while its sister school Shahid Mahdavi Educational Complex, which teaches in Persian and English, offers the primary years programme.
The British School Tehran was shut down after protesters stormed the British Embassy in 2011, following the imposition of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme. The French and German schools, which are based within the same embassy precincts, also closed following the incident but have since reopened.
The German Embassy School went on to launch an English-medium international section in the buildings of the British school in 2012, which is a candidate school for the IB primary years programme.
Education is compulsory from age six to 16 and free in state schools, which are single-sex and teach in Persian. Children attend primary school up to age 12 and lower secondary school from age 12 to 16.
Upper secondary education lasts two years and is divided into vocational and academic tracks, with students who pass the high school diploma allowed to take the Konkur, the national university entrance exam. Iran has many universities and vocational institutes.