Basij Militias Will Run 2000 Child Care Centers, 25% of All Day Care in Iran
Teaching Islamic Values Becomes Priority in Face of Flagging Public Support
Iran’s Welfare Organization will allow the Revolutionary Guard’s volunteer paramilitary arm, the Basij, to establish and operate 2,000 child care centers, which would comprise 25% of all day care facilities in the country.
The move reflects a growing preoccupation with what is perceived by officials as Iranian youths’ lack of interest in conforming to strict hijab (female dress) and general Islamic values.
It also indicates the authorities’ appreciation for the importance of early ideological training as a way to shore up waning public support for conservative Islamic values, and caps three decades of efforts by the Islamic Republic to provide ideological training to Iran’s new generations.
Iranian officials have been vocal in expressing their dismay with the younger generation’s growing lack of interest in Islamic values.
“Ninety percent of our youth have distanced themselves from Islam today by virtue of our political conduct. We cannot say things that only a specific group would approve. You and I are responsible for these Shia Muslims who are escaping the religious by virtue of my or your conduct, the indifference, and the lack of accountability of those who have been trusted with responsibility,” said Tehran’s Deputy Governor-Political Affairs Seyed Shahabeddin Chavoshi, while addressing a group of city council members in Malard, outside of Tehran, last week.
A Welfare Organization official told the Young Journalists Club on April 25, 2015 that in order to “improve the quality of childcare centers,” and to “promote them to standard levels,” “unauthorized” daycare centers would be imminently shuttered.
“Addressing unauthorized day care centers is on the Organization’s agenda, and according to a memorandum of understanding, licenses for 2,000 daycare centers will be issued for the Women’s Basij Force,” Arezoo Zokaeifar, General Director of Children’s Affairs at the Iranian Welfare Organization, told the YJC.
Over recent years, large numbers of day care centers have been transferred to the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia forces, and the trend is expected to gain speed with these developments.
Daneshjoo News Agency, affiliated with the Student Basij Organization, reported in November 2013, that 500 Quranic Studies day care centers had been established by the Basij.
At a 2013 gathering to honor women who wore the chador (Islamic veil), Mohammad Reza Naghdi, Commander of the Basij Force, criticized the conditions of Iranian day care centers and said, “Many daycare centers in the country are promoters of Western culture, and are not teaching the children the truth about the religion of Islam and our culture.”
Naghdi also criticized the Ministry of Education for inadequately promoting conservative dress for women, stating, “How many books are being taught on hijab in schools in the country, that would answer the students’ questions about hijab? Some say that we must not have a militaristic approach to confronting the cultural invasion, and that we must encourage [the students] with cultural activities, but we have no record of [successful] cultural work.”