The concour week in Iran
This is the concour week in Iran. About 1.3 million hopefuls are competing. Yesterday I wrote something about the concour in this week of political upheaval in large cities for the NYT, which I have posted here already. Here are a few more observations.
Officials claim that there are no losers this year because all 1.3 million will get into some university. This may be technically true thanks to the rapid increase in enrollments in distant education (Payam Noor) and minor private universities in addition to the Islamic Azad university. But it masks the fact that public universities which are more prestigious and free have not really expanded. So the concour competition is not just about getting somewhere, but to get into a top public university. That still is for the lucky 10%.
It is interesting to watch various programs and talk shows about the concour on Iranian TV. In one talk show a deeply concerned mother called in to say that her child was sick and unlikely to get better by this Thursday, June 25, to take the test. I thought the expert from the national testing agency (Sazman Sanjesh) evaded the question. So I still do not know if there a make-up for the concour. In my classes, I always get a few student who get sick and can’t take the test. How is this handled in Iran’s concour?
Another program would seem unreal to a Western reporter here to cover the street protests because it was a long program on Iran’s main news channel on nutrition–for concour competitors! I learned for the first time that eggs are bad for the test day but quick-release sugars like honey jam are good!
I hope the authorities are looking equally deep for fundemantal solutions to the conour probelm: equality of opportunity in education with efficient incentives for learning a wide range of productive skills.