Illiteracy in Iran (Radio Farda)

By: Faisal Fulad

Track Persia- April 13, 2018

The director of the Iranian Literacy Movement said that nearly 20 million people in Iran are “illiterate”. According to the Iranian statistics released in 2017, about 25 percent of the country’s population are illiterate, including 11 million people who are relative illiterate and 9 million who are absolute illiterate. Ali Baqarzadeh, the director of the Iranian Literacy Movement, said that literacy rate in the 10 to 49 year age group was 94.7%. Hence, the highest rate of illiteracy exists among the age groups over 50 years.

“The literacy rate in the 10 – 19 year age group is over 98 %,” said Ali Baqerzadeh. The literacy rate in the group 10-29 ages was 97.3 percent, with growth of 1.1 percent over the past five years. However, the development of education among persons aged 50 years has not fully improved and the number of illiterates in this age group remains very high. [[i]]

Ali Baqerzadeh argued that “in all Iranian provinces, at least 1.5 percent of illiteracy rates have been reduced”. He also added that 30 million people in Iran were illiterate until October 2014, but the figure now stands at 20 million after four years of illiteracy reduction. While official statistics indicate that “the number of illiterates was almost stagnant”. The government in Iran has not yet to solve the problem of illiteracy, as there are more than 9 million absolute illiterates and 11 million relative illiterates available in the country.

The Literacy Movement is a governmental organisation established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 to teach literacy to adults and children who cannot reach schools. However, despite the 39 years since the establishment of the mullahs’ regime in Iran, the problem of illiteracy in the country remains so high that many people cannot read and write.

According to Baqerzadeh, the illiteracy rate has risen in 13 Iranian provinces. Although the head of the literacy movement did not refer to the “names of provinces and regions suffering from illiteracy” in the country, education experts warned that illiteracy and trafficking are higher in the provinces that located in the Iranian borders, where different ethnic groups live in those areas. In this regard, the province of Baluchistan is at the top of illiteracy in Iran, and Kurdistan is the second province of illiteracy in the country. [[ii]]

However, on the other hand, the Iranian analytical news portal “Donyaye Safar” stated that “the number of illiterates in Iran is more than 20 million, and certainly more than 25 million to 30 million,” in which this number does not match the statistics of the director of the Literacy Movement in Iran. The number of illiterates in Iran until 2014 was 30 million; and the official sources in Iran confirmed that the percentage of illiterates in Iran has not changed, so the number of illiterates in the country exceeds 20 million people. [iii]

Iranian intervention in the region

There are considerable numbers of people in Iran suffer from illiteracy and other poor basic services such as schooling, medical care, transporting and so on, while the Iranian regime is spending billions of dollars for its intervention in the region to destabilise the security of the Arab countries, especially the Arab Gulf countries. Therefore, many Iranian people, particularly from the predominantly non-Persian areas, such as Baluchistan, Kurdistan and Al-Ahwaz, are the most afflicted of the growing illiteracy and other poor sevices in Iran.

According to “DW”, Iran contributes $6-15 billion annually to the Syrian regime, an estimate which is much higher than that the United States has accused Iran of speding to create instability in the region. In 2012 and 2013, Iran spent 14- 15 billion USD in military and economic assistance to the Syrian regime, despite the fact that banking and transactions in Iran were interrupted by the global financial system in those years. However, Staffan De Mistura, the United Nations Special Envoy for the Syria crisis, believed that the Iranian regime supported the Syrian regime by spending nearly $35 billion in 2016. [iv]

BBC Persian in its report stated that Iran from the beginning of the unrest in Syria began to support the Bashar al-Assad regime. So far as in the first half of 2011, the EU banned the three senior members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Quds Force from “providing equipment and support for suppressing protesters in Syria”. [v]

BBC Persian also added that Iran in recent years, donated $800 million to Hezbollah and $70 million to other groups in the Middle East. According to the US Congressional Research Centre, Iran pays billions of dollars annually to its sponsored terrorists in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The report, commissioned by Senator Mark Kirk, said that Tehran would pay $1 billion to its dependents each year in Iraq. [vi]

Iranian support to the groups or individuals in the region would undermine the stability of the region, which causes Iran to be condemned by International Organisations to interfere in other countries’ affairs, and to impose sanctions on Iran.  The international sanctions have caused the Iranian people to face extreme poverty, but the Iranian government still pays billions of dollars to support militants in the region.


[[i]] Radio Farda, 4th April 2018:

[[ii]] Ibid

[iii] Donyaye Safar, 17th August 2016:

[iv] DW, February 2018:

[v] BBC Persian, 26th February 2018:

[vi] VOA, 4th September 2015:


About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.