Persian as a National Language, Minority Languages and Multilingual Education in Iran

Since the introduction of modern education in Iran in 1858, the myth of “one language, one nation” has been the underlying ideology of Iran’s language planning and policy, to the point that purification and standardization of Persian have been among the dominant language policies during the past century disregarding the diversity of languages of the nation. The present article argues that implementation of the policy of “one language, one nation”, however beneficial in Iran’s crisis era during the second world, is not to be adopted as a long-term policy due to the dynamic of the diversity of the context and considering that approximately one-third of Iranian students are born in ethnic areas where Persian is not their mother tongue. I will survey the present state of some of the main non-dominant/minority languages in Iran and of Persian as a national language and scrutinize multilingual education strategies in contrast to the dominant discourse of language planning and education considering the relation to national solidarity, identity and minority languages in Iran. The article argues that implementing multilingual education policies can simultaneously achieve the intended goal of standard Persian literacy promotion as well as the affirmation and preservation of various local languages of diverse ethnic groups in the nation.