Leader’s Speech to Teachers

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on May 4, 2011 to thousands of teachers from across the country.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I would like to welcome the dear brothers and sisters and the teachers who have the prominent and sensitive job of educating people across the country. I would like to take this opportunity to express my greetings to all the teachers in different parts of the country. And I solemnly pray to God to make your essential responsibility auspicious for you and our dear nation.

We should commemorate our dear martyr, the prominent teacher of all time, Shahid Motahhari. The fact that Teachers' Day and the martyrdom anniversary of Shahid Motahhari are marked on the same day has a symbolic and significant meaning. This is because Shahid Motahhari was truly a great and prominent man. His life and his sincere and wise efforts were accompanied by a sense of sympathy and perfect insight in the arena of knowledge and culture. And Allah the Exalted rewarded this great man and bestowed martyrdom on him. In fact by doing this, God kept him alive. "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord." [The Holy Quran, 3: 169] A man who had graduated from Qom Islamic Seminary and acquired deep knowledge made his way into the heart of Iran's culture, public education and young generation and became a source of blessings.

As I have pointed out in Islamic seminaries, the scholars and prominent figures of Islamic seminaries are competent people who can play a role in the educational system, and no organization is more important than the educational system. This means that there will always be room for more material and spiritual investments on the educational system. The educational system is the heart of our society: both now and in the future.

Now I would like to speak about your role as teachers. Teachers are responsible for training people who will run the country in the not so distant future. Your young students will soon be responsible for the affairs of our society, no matter at what level they are. Prominent figures of the future are among your students. Sincere mujahids of the future are among your students. The competent people who will manage the economy and culture of this country are among the children who come to your class. You are responsible for training them to do their future duties well and bring about progress, not retrogression and corruption. Notice how important your job is.

As I said, your influence as a teacher is in certain cases even stronger than genetic factors. Human beings are born with certain genetic tendencies, but it is possible to change these tendencies through practice. And teachers can play a role in this regard and help their students change their tendencies through practice. That is to say, you can train individuals who are truly to the level of Islam. You can train a workforce that is to the level of Islamic Republic. This is the role that teachers should play. These are not compliments: they are facts.

One of the things that is necessary to do is that our people and government officials, young and old, should appreciate the importance of teachers. They should appreciate the value of teachers. These things are essential. The media and government officials should play a role in this regard. This should not be reduced to ceremonial gestures. It is necessary to help people realize the importance of the role that a teacher plays in class - the gentleman or lady who spends his life on educating our youth and children. Of course teachers should also understand their role appropriately and appreciate the importance of the role they play. This is essential. Therefore, teachers and Teachers' Day are very valuable.

Everybody should pay attention to this point: the people, government officials and the Ministry of Education. Everybody has certain responsibilities towards teachers. Everybody should be committed to these spiritual and material responsibilities and try to fulfill them.

Regarding the issue of transforming the educational system, there is a point which I have repeatedly mentioned in my meetings with our dear teachers and the officials in charge of the educational system. I have also spoken about this issue in my meetings with government officials. Why is this transformation necessary? After all, it is not wise to transform something without having a good reason. Why do we want to transform the educational system? One simple reason is that our educational system has not proven effective in educating our young generations. The main reason is that this educational system has been imported from abroad. It is not rooted in our domestic needs. This is one of our big problems. Sometimes the experiences of a nation and its historical background help that nation realize that it should educate people, build houses and manage the country in a particular way. This is good. One should always utilize the experiences of other people.

We do not hate learning from other people. We do not consider this below our dignity. But it is a bad idea to import paradigms from other countries and cultures and practice it in our country without taking domestic requirements into account. This is what has been happening in our country since one hundred years ago. Apart from the mercenaries who had been recruited by intelligence services of foreign governments, there were well-intentioned people in the country who wanted to help the country make progress, but they did not know how to do this. They falsely believed our people should become exactly like foreigners. In their writings and speeches, they promoted the idea that our people should become Europeans in every aspect. They made a big mistake. This affected our educational system in particular. Unfortunately many other things were affected as well. Our economy, our architecture, our lifestyle, our culture and many other things were affected as a result of the misunderstanding or treachery by our political figures during the time of taghut. Thankfully the Revolution took place and changed the path. We developed a tendency towards indigenous ideas. However, many of the initial foundations have remained unchanged, particularly the educational system. We should definitely use what the world - different western and eastern nations - has experienced in order to improve our domestic paradigm. This is why we need a transformation.

This transformation should take place according to an independent Iranian paradigm which is rooted in spirituality and domestic needs of the country. That is to say, the paradigm should in fact originate from the Islam we believe in. We must develop such a paradigm. The transformation should be in this direction. What should be the goal of this new paradigm in the area of education? The goal is to train manpower that is to the level of the Islamic Republic. If the Islamic Republic wants to hold up the flag of Islam, if the Islamic Republic wants to achieve prosperity and improve its situation in this world and the next, there are certain requirements that have to be met. The Holy Quran teaches us that it is possible to improve one's situation in this world and in the hereafter, and this is what we should do. If the Islamic Republic wants to help other nations - as the Holy Quran says, "You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men" - if the Islamic Republic wants to be a witness and a bearer of good news for other nations [The Holy Quran, 33: 45: "O Prophet, surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner."], there are certain requirements that have to be met. In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to train individuals who are honorable, knowledgeable, talented, innovative, well-behaved and courageous. It is necessary to train people who can take risks and enter new areas without any sense of inferiority or superiority. It is necessary to train people who love Allah the Exalted and depend on His power. It is necessary to train people who are patient, optimistic and hopeful. Islam has provided all of these things in a complete package for those who believe in Islam. We should open this package and benefit from everything that it contains. The educational system should train such people. Narrow-minded, pessimistic, hopeless, depressed, impious and corrupt people cannot help human communities make progress. They cannot help nations achieve prosperity. Naturally they cannot be role models either. Transforming the educational system should be in this direction.

All the things that the honorable Minister spoke about are good. Of course not all of them are at the same level. Some of them are essential priorities, and some others are of secondary importance. It is necessary to do what the honorable Minister spoke about. However, the direction should be specified in advance. You should know what you want to do. We should have a comprehensive plan for the transformation. According to this comprehensive plan, we should satisfy the requirements one after the other. When you have designed a big building according to a plan, you know exactly what you should do. When you want to build a huge building, you always start with a plan. Sometimes you build part of the building in one place and another part in a different place. When people take a look at it, they may not be able to predict the final form of the building. But as a person who is building the structure according to a plan, you know exactly what you are doing. Everything that you build is part of the plan you have. This is when you have a comprehensive plan. If there is no such plan and if this transformation is not based on a comprehensive outlook, things may work against each other in the end. You may end up with big gaps and unnecessary overlaps. Therefore, the first requirement is to have a comprehensive outlook and a comprehensive plan.

Teachers are one of the elements that must be taken into consideration in this comprehensive plan. Of course good things have been done regarding our textbooks. I have been informed of certain good things that have been done in the area of preparing textbooks. Of course it is necessary to do other things as well and by Allah's favor, these things will be done. However, it is the teacher who will teach the textbooks. If the teacher is knowledgeable, caring, reflective and innovative, he or she will make up for the possible shortcomings in the textbooks. But if the teacher is incompetent, hopeless and lethargic and teaches just because he or she has to teach, then it is not clear whether the students will learn anything good even if the textbooks are good. Therefore, teachers are important. They are the pivot.

The honorable Minister referred to the issue of teacher education and in-service courses for our teachers. These things are very good and necessary. Of course you dear teachers should show that you have the necessary characteristics for teaching at schools. In any case, these are our needs, and it is necessary to take care of them. Governmental organizations should consider this great and important issue of education from this perspective. Our future depends on the current situation of our educational system. Material and spiritual investments on the educational system will undoubtedly produce high yields, far more than what we invest. Our country needs a good educational system. Why? Because the responsibility that it has taken on is a huge responsibility.

Dear people, we should believe that the movement which has been initiated by this powerful and courageous nation under the leadership of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) is exceptional in the history of mankind, not just in the modern world. A great achievement was accomplished. As people who are involved in this movement and are contributing according to our capabilities, we cannot have a complete evaluation of this great movement. We cannot have an appropriate evaluation unless we step out of the world we are involved in and try to evaluate the situation of the world, consider great international movements, take a look at different political and social motives that are behind these movements, see the role of the arrogant powers - the same thing that has been referred to in the Holy Quran, "We have made in every town the great ones to be its guilty ones, that they may plan therein" - see the role of destructive policies in dominating the world for the sake of certain interests. Then one can realize the greatness of the movement started by the Iranian nation: the movement of a nation in order to revive Islamic values which represent the best human values in a world where all elements of power had been deployed against these Islamic values. It was a great achievement.

The Iranian nation entered the arena with all its power and made a great accomplishment. The Iranian nation achieved victory and established a government. But it was alone. The Iranian nation made this accomplishment alone, and it pursued this difficult path on its own. It did not become tired. It did not get disappointed. It did not get frustrated. They did not succeed in intimidating this nation. The Iranian nation moved forward. After the spread of this great movement throughout the world, today the effects of that accomplishment are gradually becoming tangible in the world.

The wave of awakening is not just happening in North Africa and West Asia. This wave of awakening will continue into the heart of Europe. There will come a day when European nations will rise up against their politicians and leaders who have totally subjugated them to the cultural and economic policies of America and Zionism. This awakening will definitely happen. This shows the continuation and depth of the movement by the Iranian nation. It is a great movement.

Well, if we want this movement to continue at this speed and with this characteristic and become effective, then we should improve ourselves. We must be like steel. We must strengthen our faith. We must increase our insight. We must increase our awareness. We must acquire more knowledge on a daily basis. We must utilize the talents which have been bestowed on us by Allah the Exalted. We joined hands in unity, and we must preserve this. These things are necessary.

Thankfully, this is how our nation is acting. Our nation is making good progress. But if you manage to train this progressive young generation in an appropriate way, this movement will continue with more speed. I assure you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will manage to conquer the peaks one after the other thanks to the presence of good, faithful and sincere people in our country.

May God bestow His blessings on the pioneers of this path. May God bless our dear martyrs and proud mujahids. May God bless the soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) who opened up this path in front of us. May God bless all Iranian people.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings