Leader's Speech in Meeting with Teachers from Throughout the Country

 The following is the full text of the speech delivered on May 6, 2015 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with a group of teachers from throughout the country. The meeting was held on the occasion of Teachers' Week.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

God's greetings be upon Muhammad (s.w.a.) and his immaculate household (a.s.)

My dear ones, welcome. You have imbued this Hussainiyah with the scent of your pure breaths. The essence of teaching is really pure. Any environment in which teachers are present will undoubtedly enjoy divine mercy and blessings. I hope that God will bestow success on you so that both you teachers and educational officials can carry out this great responsibility in the best way possible.

It is the month of Rajab now. The meaningful and beautiful song that you performed touched on the month of Rajab which is the month of praying and reliance on and attention to God. In this holy month, the believers who pray say this to Allah the Exalted: "Oh God, guide me the way you guide the guided, feed me with the kind of diligence that diligent people show and do not place me among those ignorant people who are away from you". How important these three requests are. And the last one is a request for forgiveness and this is the basis of all affairs: "And forgive me on Judgment Day" [Iqbal al-A'mal, Volume 2, page 643]. Guidance and diligence are things that you ask Allah the Exalted to bestow on you in this prayer.

Notice that if you and I have these two elements, all problems will be solved. All problems will be solved if we benefit from divine guidance and if the kind of diligence that diligent people throughout history had is visible in our behavior, actions and words. In the third request, a specific kind of harm has been highlighted: "And do not place me among those ignorant people who are away from you". Ignorance and negligence is the greatest detriment. Negligence - about our path, goals, capabilities and opportunities and negligence about the enemy and the responsibility that falls on our shoulders in the present time - is our greatest enemy. The first enemy that makes us suffer a defeat in the face of other enemies is negligence: "And do not place me among those ignorant people who are away from you". The consequence of this negligence is drifting away from God, from goals and from happiness. Prayers contain understanding, monotheistic concepts and valuable lessons about life. We should read prayers with this outlook and we should benefit from the environment of this month.

This week has been named "Teachers' Week" in commemoration of our dear and great teacher, the late Ayatollah Motahhari. Shahid Motahhari had many unique characteristics, but in my opinion, the most important characteristic of his personality was teaching. He was a teacher in Islamic seminaries, in universities and in the ordinary environment of life. His speeches were a lesson because he was pure and diligent. I saw up close instances of his scholarly efforts. He used to have notes for all subject matters. He showed me packs of his writings about different matters. At that time, I was surprised at his patience, enthusiasm, persistence and diligence. Well, this is why today - after the passage of 35 years from the martyrdom of that man - his books and his words are still alive. Today, his books and his statements continue to be valuable for our young generation and researchers. Of course, we do not say that this is enough. There are new ideas, thoughts and falsehoods and some people should work on them in a Motahhari manner, but his name is an eternal name.

Well, the main issue that I want to discuss is about the educational system. Of course, there are other issues which I may discuss, but the main issue that I would like to raise today is the issue of the educational system. This is an issue which is important to me. The reason is that the educational system is, in fact, a center for creating the future world. It is evident that we will have a future. In 20, 25 years, a generation will take over which is being produced today. And the producers of this product are teachers and the educational system. You are producing a generation. How are you going to do that? This is very important. The future of the country and our world is dependent on the effort that the educational system makes today. This is not an unimportant matter. We have no other organization which is so important. Of course, people study in universities and Islamic seminaries and they are cultivated in social environments as well, but the influential role of teachers is irreplaceable. The role that teachers can play in influencing the intellectual and psychological build up of today's children - who are going to be men and women of our future - has no peers.

This role is related to the entire period of childhood, the entire teenage period and the entire 12-year educational term. It is an irreplaceable role. Neither parents nor the environment can play this role. Teachers are such individuals. The educational system is such an organization. The educational system has the highest level of contact with the living environment of the people. You have about 13 million students. Including their parents - who constitute 26 million people - it becomes 39 million people. And if you add the one million teachers and personnel of the educational system, then about 40 million people are in contact with this organization. Which other organization do you know that enjoys such a high and important level of contact with society? These are the reasons why we place great emphasis on the educational system.

Now, I would like to raise a point about this organization. I have said many times and I would like to repeat that no matter how much we pay for the educational system, it is not an expenditure. Rather, it is an investment. We should adopt such an outlook towards the economy of the educational system. The economy of the educational system is not like the economy of any other organization. If you pay a great deal of money, you are - in fact - making an investment. This is the main and fundamental matter that I expect the officials of the country, executive officials and our people to pay attention to. This was about the educational system.

In this great organization, who are the pivotal points and the torchbearers that manage the arena and that should be provided for? The answer is teachers. Teachers are the main people who manage the arena. Different organizations, institutions, documents, schoolbooks and everything else support this main pivot. A good teacher is a person whose influence is - as we said - irreplaceable. If we benefit from good teachers, they can educate great men even in a system like the system of maktab khane [the traditional Iranian schools] as they did so in the past. Good teachers can create great men and individuals and outstanding personalities even in a system which is not very efficient. Therefore, teachers are the main essence.

What do teachers want to do? I have written it down. They want to produce a generation which enjoys these characteristics: piety, self-confidence, hopefulness, enthusiasm, physical and psychological health, optimism, determination, frugality and beneficiality. Teachers want to cultivate such a generation. This is not a minor responsibility. When it is said that teachers do what prophets do, we should pay attention to the depth of this statement. What does it mean? "He sent among them a messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of Allah, purifying them, and instructing them the Book and wisdom" [The Holy Quran, 3: 164]. This is what prophets used to do. Their job was to save humanity and to create a lofty and noble human community. This was the prophets' job. When we say that "Teachers have the same vocation as prophets do" and "Teaching is the prophets' vocation" this is what it means. Teachers are such people.

Well, this has certain requirements. One of the requirements is the issue of economy which we discussed. The economy of the educational system and teachers' economical problems are one of the requirements. We know the limitations that governmental organizations have. We are not unfamiliar with the limitations and problems that they have, but executive officials should try to pay special attention to this matter. As we said, this is a kind of investment, it will yield results and it will produce value added. It is not an unnecessary cost. This issue should be among primary issues in executive management and decision-making. If we do not do so, the enemy will take advantage of it. You see what he is doing. By using his media, radio and agents, by using those individuals who have malevolent intentions against the Islamic Republic and Islam and by using such tools and instruments, the enemy will take advantage of the situation.

Of course, our teachers are vigilant, noble and religious. I really believe in this. We have experienced it in the course of many years and today too, we can see it throughout the country. Our teachers are not negligent about the enemy's plots. Everyone can understand that those who chant slogans in the name of economic problems and who add a seditious, political and partisan tinge to them do not have healthy motives. They do not chant such slogans to show their sympathy to teachers. Rather, they have other motives. Similarly, when a foreign medium focuses its efforts on this matter - in the present time, they work on this more than they did in the past - it is not out of sympathy. Rather, their goal is to create problems and cause trouble for the Islamic Republic. They adopt such measures out of malevolence and grudge against Islam, the independence of the country and the Islamic Republic. But we should not give them any excuse. This is one point.

Of course, as we said, teachers should be - as they are - vigilant. Fortunately, our teachers are vigilant. When some people act against the Islamic Republic and the Revolution in whatever way they can - they sting and inject their venom and they show hostility to the Islamic Republic - this is out of grudge against the Islamic Republic, not out of kindness to teachers. And they make the same use of any other slogan that they find.

Another issue is the issue of Farhangian [teacher education] University. I have referred to this matter before, both in my private meetings with the honorable Minister of Education and in my public speeches with teachers. Farhangian University is very important. All the procedures which lead to teacher employment, teaching and the education of teachers should be adopted correctly and on the basis of Islam and the Revolution. If we do so, the result will be what you want and it will be approved by God. As we said, it will produce a great and promising generation for the future of the country. However, if these requirements are not met, then such achievements will not be made. In Farhangian University, both textbook materials, and teachers and the academic staff are very important. What kind of people do we want to educate so that they build and produce great men? This is very important. Therefore, the issue of competence, professors and textbook materials is very important in Farhangian University.

Another issue is the issue of bringing about a fundamental transformation in the educational system. Fortunately today, the honorable Minister of Education referred to it and he discussed the efforts that have been made in this regard. I have seen its report before. What is important is that everyone has accepted the fact that our educational system needs a transformation. Even if the old educational system of the country had no other flaw, it would be enough for one to reject it and believe in a fundamental transformation because no change has been made in it with the passage of time.

The transformation plan which was fortunately prepared and announced two, three years ago and which became the basis for other plans is a good and effective plan from the viewpoint of outstanding experts in the educational system. Experts and those who are well-informed about educational matters approve of this plan. Educational experts approve of this plan which has thankfully been prepared with hours of work, with great diligence and with everyone's help. They say that it is a well-prepared and important plan. Therefore, it should be implemented. Of course, we should not expect such plans to produce results soon. These are not plans whose results show themselves in one, two, five years. Rather, they require patience and constant work.

One point is that the cohesion of this plan should be preserved. It was pointed out in the meeting that a number of articles in this plan have been implemented. This is good, but all its articles should be implemented because this is a cohesive plan. If we implement some - for example, 40 - articles and ignore the rest, it will not produce results. So, the cohesion of this plan should be preserved. When all articles are implemented, then tasks will move forward and they will be accelerated and carried out in the correct way.

Another point is that the educational body of the country should become familiar with this plan. They should know what this plan demands. A teacher who teachers in such as such a primary school or high school should know what this fundamental transformation asks him to do. A primary or high school principal should know - on the basis of this plan - what his responsibility towards students is. The demands of this plan should be identified and we should explain and discuss them for all educational personnel.

Another important issue is that promotional organizations and national media should offer their help. Sometimes, it is even suggested to establish an IRIB channel with the purpose of delineating this matter. Of course, this depends on cooperation between educational and IRIB officials.

Another important matter about this plan is the capacity of the Sixth [Five-Year] Plan. Fortunately, the honorable Minister of Education spoke about it today. In the present time, the policies of the Sixth Plan are being prepared. Later on, the plan itself will be prepared and it will be implemented in the future. The issue of the educational system and the transformation plan should be definitely considered in the Sixth Plan so that we know what we will have in the educational system in the year 1404.

One fundamental point is that - I am addressing this to officials in charge of the educational system - you should take care not to let raw and easily formulated plans and shallow and routine changes replace the fundamental transformation. We should take care not to let these plans and changes satisfy and please us, thinking that we are changing the educational system. Shallow changes are not important. The basis is the articles specified in the transformation plan so that this structure can be renovated gradually. This is important.

Fortunately, the ground is prepared. When I take a look at the country, it seems to me that in the present time, the ground is more prepared for you and the honorable officials of the educational system to raise the quality of the educational system and to bring about a major and fundamental transformation in this important and sensitive organization. One day, we had 18 million students, but today, we have less than 13 million. This is an opportunity. There was one day when we had serious shortcomings in terms of educational environments. There were a number of two-shift, three-shift schools. Fortunately today, such a situation does not exist anymore. In many areas of the country, schools are in good conditions. And there are some people who are interested and who offer help. This should be preserved. Therefore today, the ground is prepared for bringing about this transformation.

In any case, the country fortunately enjoys stability and security. Executive officials are busy working in an enthusiastic way. Today is the day when we can, by Allah's favor, help the educational system reach a fundamental point in terms of quality, content and structure. As I said, teachers are the pivot of this transformation. Those who stand in the middle of the arena are you dear teachers. On this occasion, I would like to send my greetings to all teachers throughout the country and I hope that God will keep all teachers under His protection.

There is another point which is not relevant to the issue of the educational system but which is among the fundamental matters of the country. This point is about the way the enemies behave towards the Islamic Republic. During the past 35 years, the grandeur of the great movement of our people has always caught the enemies' eyes. They have bragged and boasted a lot and they made as many efforts as they could, but they always held the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic in awe. Therefore, we should preserve it. This awe - which is a reality, not an illusion - should be preserved. We are a large country and a 70-plus million people who enjoy a cultural and historical background which is deeper and more original than the cultural and historical background in many other countries in the world. We are a people who have courage and determination. We are a people who defend our identity and character.

One example of this emerged in the eight-year Sacred Defense Era. During those eight years, all global powers in the east and west and their agents and cohorts joined hands to bring the people of Iran to their knees, but they could not do so. Therefore, do these people not deserve to enjoy grandeur and greatness in the eyes of global spectators? This greatness should be preserved. Politicians in different countries and those who are well-informed have said to us - some of them have said this to us and some did not, but they have said it among themselves and we have been informed of it - that if the sanctions that the enemies have imposed and the pressures that they have exerted on the Islamic Republic had been directed at any other country, they would have completely annihilated them, but they could not even stir the Islamic Republic. We are such a system. This is not a minor incident, rather it is a very great matter.

Of course, global propaganda always places a cover, a curtain and a blanket of fog in the way of its addressees so that they do not see many realities. However, many people in the world and many nations - particularly, those who are close to us - see these realities. All politicians in the world see realities. You should not look at their statements. All those heads of countries, politicians and spokespeople in different western and European countries, in America and in other places - who sometimes make nonsensical statements - confirm in their hearts the greatness, grandeur, power and competence of the people of Iran although they do not show it in their words.

I have repeatedly spoken about the nuclear negotiations and other such matters and we have said what we should have, but everyone - including our officials in charge of foreign policy, other officials and the outstanding personalities of society - should pay attention that if a people cannot properly defend their identity and greatness in the face of foreigners, then they will certainly receive a blow to the head [they will be humiliated]. There is no doubt about this. We should appreciate the value of our character and personality. The enemies issue threats. Just a few days ago, two American politicians issued military threats. And such threats are issued by many other politicians who do not have very important and sensitive positions. I do not understand. What does negotiation under the shadow of threats mean? They want us to negotiate under the shadow of threats! It appears as if there was a sword being brandished above our heads!

The people of Iran are not like this. The people of Iran do not tolerate negotiating under the shadow of threats. Why do they issue threats? Why do they say nonsense? They say that under such and such circumstances, they may attack Iran. First, the hell you will do such a thing [audience chants "Death to America!"]. You do not dare do so and second, I said during the time of the former President of America - at that time too, he used to issue threats - that the time of "hit and run" is over. It is not the case that you can say, "We will hit them and then we will run". This is not the case. Your feet will get stuck and we will chase you. The people of Iran will never let go of those who transgress against them. We will chase anyone who wants to do that.

Everyone - including our negotiators - should pay attention to this. Our negotiators should constantly take red lines and the main guidelines into consideration. Of course, they probably do so. By Allah's favor, they will take them into consideration and they will not cross these red lines. Nonetheless, it is not acceptable if they issue threats. Why do you issue threats? You do not need these negotiations less than us. Yes, we would like sanctions to be lifted, but even if this does not happen, we can manage on our own in other ways. This has been proven. One day, I mentioned this matter [Resistance Economy]. Fortunately today, I witness that economists, different officials and those who are familiar with economic matters of the country constantly repeat this. They say that it is not the case that the economic issues of the country are dependent on sanctions and that economic problems will be solved only if sanctions are lifted. Economic problems can be resolved with our own determination, intention, actions and measures whether sanctions exist or not. Of course, if sanctions do not exist, it will be easier to do so. If sanctions exist, it is a bit more difficult, but it is possible.

We have such an outlook towards negotiations, but the current government of America is in real need of these negotiations. One of the fundamental points that they raise in their performance sheet is that they have managed to bring the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table and impose such and such a thing on it. They need this. If the other side does not need these negotiations more than us - and it definitely does - at least it does not need it less than we do. So, why do they issue threats? I do not agree with those negotiations which are conducted under the shadow of threats. They can go and talk to them. They can negotiate and reach an agreement. This is alright - of course, if they observe the main guidelines - but they should not at all accept imposition, bullying, humiliation and threat.

Today, their reputation has been completely ruined in the world. The move that the Saudi government is making in Yemen cannot be justified by any logic and argument. If someone sends an airplane to another country saying, "Why do you want such and such a person to rule? Why not such and such a person?" and if they decide to strike the people, target infrastructure, commit crimes, kill women and children and set everywhere on fire, there is no justification in this. And the Americans are supporting this unjustifiable move and this great crime.

Can dishonor and disgrace exist at a higher level than this? Today, America has no honor and dignity in the eyes of regional peoples. Everyone is watching this situation. The Americans are outspokenly saying that they support this move and they are not embarrassed at all. Then, they say to us, "Why do you send help [the people of Yemen]?" We wanted to send pharmaceutical aid. We wanted to send drugs for the sick. We did not want to send weapons because they do not need any. All Yemeni military bases and armies are in the hands of revolutionary people and this group "Ansarullah". They do not need our weapons. We wanted to send them drugs, but you laid a pharmaceutical siege on a people. You laid a food and energy siege on them and then you say, "No one should help them".

You did not even allow the Red Crescent to provide some services. This is while they [Americans] themselves give military information to the Saudis. They give them weapons and resources and they provide them with political encouragement. They have no honor and reputation whatsoever. The path that the people of Iran have chosen is a reasonable, solid and promising path. Much to the dissatisfaction of the enemies, this path will produce results and the people of Iran will be successful. Then, the enemies will see that they have failed to reach their vicious goals against the people of Iran.

God's mercy be upon our dear martyrs, who laid down their lives, and upon our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) who opened this path for us. God's mercy be upon you dear, religious and enthusiastic brothers and sisters who show such great presence on the scene.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings