Education: A Right for Everyone

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The recent arrests of some Baha’i’s in Iran for running the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) has been met with outrage across the world.

Iran’s attack on Bahá’í educators has also struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons.

The BIHE is an online university and it was established in 1987 for Bahá’ís in Iran.  Bahá’ís in Iran have repeatedly been denied access to a higher education ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  A leaked confidential Iran memo in 2006 (from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) exposes a government-level policy to deny Bahá’í students university education.

I’m a Bahá’í, and I’ve had the opportunity to go to university, graduate, and now specialise in adult education – but hey, I don’t live in Iran. To be honest, I never thought going to university was such a big deal. I just saw it as a natural continuation from my schooling years.  My only source of stress during my university years was waiting to see if my marks were good enough to get into the course of my choice, as well as some of the last minute study cramming I used to do for my exams.  In fact, my years at university were some of the best years of my life, so far! This is why I find it confusing and unthinkable that Bahá’í students in Iran are repeatedly denied the opportunity to pursue a further education, and even be arrested for trying! 

More than 40 years ago, the world’s nations, speaking through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, asserted that “everyone has a right to education”.

There are some amazing quotes from the Bahá’í Writings on education and its importance in achieving material and spiritual progress. What I love about the Bahá’í teachings is that it exalts the concept of knowledge and promotes free inquiry and self-reflected learning. The Bahá’í teachings talk of the importance of creating a career for yourself and striving towards perfecting your skills. I’m sure you would have also heard the common phrase ‘work is worship’.

Bahá’u’lláh so eloquently professes that acquiring knowledge and expertise will promote human prosperity – long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights even came into existence! Two of my favourite quotes about education are from the pen of Bahá’u’lláh:

Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being and are conductive to this exaltation.  Knowledge is as wings to a man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent.  It’s acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. Bahá’u’lláh – Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of estimable value.  Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. Bahá’u’lláh- Gleanings from The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

Every human being in this world has a right to grow their ‘wings’ and reveal their ‘treasures’ to one another.

There is currently a campaign underway which has been going viral. It advocates for the right of young Bahá’ís in Iran to an education, but it’s not a Bahá’í campaign. It’s been organised by a group of young people of different nationalities and religious backgrounds who believe that everyone has the right to an education. If this is something you agree with and you want to get involved, you can voice your support by checking out their website: www.can-you-solve-this.org

Check out their video too!

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Discussion 7 Comments

  1. I LOVE this article!!!!! There is ALWAYS something we can ALL do to help the people of Iran & in particular the people
    who are being systematically discrimination against & persecuted. Raising awareness may not seem like too much but it’s really the foundation to
    fixing any problem. Now that we know what the problems are we must ACT and act BOLDY & ardently so that we can help our fellow human beings who have been suffering for decades.

  2. It is so sad to hear that Baha’i children and the Baha’i youth are deprived from basic human’s right (EDUCATION).

    “Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children….”

  3. My mother is a Knight of Baha’u’llah. She radiates love and kindness for all she meets. We should all see ourrselves as knights in the path of Human development. I like this story told by Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyah Khanum and passed on to me by my mother. While travelling Ruhiyyah Khanum met a mman that said he could not read or write and how was he to teach the cause of God. She asked him if he believed in God and the teachinggs of Baha’u’llah. He responded saying that he did with all his heart. She said that he had all he needed to teach the faith and that he should go without hesitation and do so. He did.

    I think that the one thing that my mother taught me was this, that love is the key to teaching the cause of God for the past dispensations, current dispensation and in the future. The mind and intellect can grasp the concepts but only the heart that is kindled with the love of Baha’u’llah can ever hope to transform the world.

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