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January 8, 2009

The Elimination of the Concour: Better Late than Never

For some time now, education policymakers in Iran have debated the necessity of the infamous Concour examinations for university admissions. After several years, Iran has decided to implement guidelines that would do away with these compulsory university entrance examinations.

For the majority of Iranian students, this dreaded exam is a one-way ticket to the bottom of the financial ladder. Of the 1.3 million people that take it, only 10% score high enough to place into public sector work or graduate programs. This means the majority of the population of young adults in Iran are left to fend for themselves in a miserable job market with over 25% youth unemployment.  So what does this mean for Iran’s future? Nothing good.

The success of a nation depends on the education, perseverance, and intelligence of its youth. In Iran, 65% of the population are under the age of 30, and approximately 31% of the youth are uneducated beyond high school. This along with Iran’s skyrocketing inflation and increased international isolation is a recipe for economic, social, and political disaster.

Iran’s decision to abolish the concour examinations is a great step in the right direction but is it too late? The structure of the concour has for decades sculpted mechanical thinking amongst white collar workers, who happen to make up the political and economic aristocracy of Iran. These elites have enforced rigid, impractical, and costly regulations on the Iranian people. They have isolated Iran from the rest of the world and are presently building walls not bridges with Iran’s neighbors and other critical nations. With the elimination of the concour, Iran may yet have hope for an educational revival among its population.

By promoting the education of young adults with a wide-range of skills, experiences, and opinions, Iran and the Iranian people are building up hope for a brighter future.  Let’s hope we’ll see more of this type of reform coming out of Iran in 2009.

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