Iran cleric: Religious authorities have begun taking control of schools

Haaretz (Link) - AP (November 25, 2009)

An Iranian cleric said in an interview on Wednesday that religious authorities have started taking control of the country's schools.

Cleric Ali Zolelm is quoted by the Etemad paper as saying schools in several provinces have been transferred from government oversight to control by Islamic seminaries.

Many consider this move to be part of a wider ideological drive by hard-liners to wage what authorities call a soft war against Western influence.

Elementary grades are believed to be the focus of the nationwide plan. It was not immediately clear whether higher grades also would fall under clerical control.

Iranian officials have already announced plans to appoint a cleric in every school - a move widely seen as an effort to bring stricter Islamic interpretations into the public education system.