September 22, 2012 - 13:23 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Iranian government should immediately reverse policies that place unnecessary restrictions on academic freedom for university students, in particular women, Human Rights Watch said.
Some of these “Islamicization” measures are to be introduced for the new academic year, which begins on September 22, 2012. Others have been put in place in recent years and adopted by universities across the country.
The measures include bans on female and male enrollment in specific academic fields in many universities, but with the greatest number of restrictions on women. They also include quotas that limit the percentage of women students in certain fields of study, and segregation in classrooms and facilities.
Authorities are enacting “Islamicization” policies at universities within the context of a wider crackdown on academic freedom that has taken place since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in 2005. Iran’s universities have increasingly become targets of government efforts to stifle dissent and “Islamicize” higher education, Human Rights Watch said.
The new restrictions provide evidence that authorities, spearheaded by the Science Ministry, are carrying out longstanding plans to “Islamicize” universities and institute programs that restrict the role of young women in universities and their access to education, Human Rights Watch said. Since the 1990s, more than 60 percent of Iran’s university students have been women.
The most recent restrictions are outlined in an annual manual published in August by the Science and Technology Ministry, which regulates higher education. The manual lists the major fields of study available to applicants sitting for the national entrance exam for public universities, which was held in June. It reveals that 36 public universities across the country have banned female enrollment in 77 fields.
“Single-gendering” university majors is only the latest in a series of repressive measures that the Science Ministry has put in place as part of its “Islamicization” program at universities during the past few years, Human Rights Watch said.