Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kurd student ranks first in Iran's university entrance exam



Entering the Iranian public universities is a prestigious event, especially if you rank #1 amongst over a million participants in a 6 hour (that's how long it was in my days) race to give correct answers to a multiple-choice questionnaire, testing you for every minute detail of what you have had to learn during 4 years of high-school.

In my days, 1989, we would start preparing for this at the beginning of the last year of highschool. Preparation meant taking "concours" classes, private tutors, and practicing a gzillion multiple-choice tests. (I was never a very disciplined and studious kid, so I hardly did any of that; but this is what my rich friends did. I was lucky to not be studious or else I would have envied their financial means; because there was no way in hell my parents would hire me a teacher to practice Modern Math or Literature! I was allowed to 10 sessions of tutoring (for my whole last year); and that was only to ask them questions that I could not solve myself. (I learned many years later that the tutors respected me for this and thought I would succeed academically, despite my poor performance in school!)

The year of my concours, 1989, is what makes this story particularly and personally significant for me. The story is of a boy (Rastegar Rahmani-Tanha), in a rural city (Javanroud) in one of the kurdish provinces of Iran (Kermanshah). It seems he was born in the same year that I graduated from highschool. Technically, he could be my son; since I have friends, classmates, whose children were participating in this year's concours. But it is none of the children of my wealthy fussy friends who have been developing ulcer over how their kids will rank, but this rural boy who has ranked #1. He has his highschool diploma in Math & Physics and has now ranked #1 in the Life Science competition. He has also ranked #1 in the foreign languages. He wants to become a doctor and serve his people. He attributes his success to hard work: 12-hour long study days and incessantly practicing test books.

I wish to put cynicism aside for a minute, and ignore the fact that IRNA has run this story, and ignore the possibility that this is another one of Ahmadinejadist's propaganda games. I wish to ignore the story on Tabnak, that is very different from IRNA's version as well.

According to Tabnak, Rastegar graduated from highschool 6 years ago (in this case, he cannot have been born in 1989); did not participate in concours for 3 years (Rahmani refuses to talk about his reasons); participated and ranked #30 in the Math and Engineering competition (still a very high honour) but could not go to university as he had to do his military service; and that his record-breaking performance in this years concours made the Organization of Evaluation of Education (the organization that holds concours) suspicious--because he had a low highschool GPA--and made him repeat the exam. He performed well in the second exam as well, thus granted full honors.

The Kurdish bloggers are jubilant. I too want to be happy for the triumph of this boy and share the joy this news is spreading in Iran's Kurdestan--where the ghost of Ehsan Fattahian is still hovering; where Zeynab Jalalian, a 27 years old woman, is scheduled to be killed one of these days.

Truth is, Iran's rural and poor regions often produce some of the most resilient and best talented citizens of the country--this is why despite the brain-drain which has been happening for at least a thousand years--Iran never depletes of creativity and intelligence.

4 comments:

Roozbeh said...

Naj, 1989 was my konkor time as well, and I still remember who ranked the first in maths and physics... she is in california (she looked quite good from the photo they published in keyhan, but a little chubby when i saw her in the uni... no offense if that's you!
Anyhow, that means you went through 1987/1988 tehran bombing if you lived in tehran, ironically i had so much fun in those months...

Talking about schooling in rural area, just watched a movie called "not one less" from china, wonderful movie.... kiarostami style... can't get the movie out of my head, the only teacher of the village needs to leave for a month, so they found a 13 year old substitute, when the teacher tells her what to do in school.. he says "when writing the words on the blackboard, don't write too small, it is not good for children's eyes... don't write too big, it is a waste of chalk, this is the shortage, then he points outside and says, the size of the words should be as big as the donkey's drops... ok?

Naj said...

:) Yeah, she was from Narges Highschool, I think! I don't remember her name though. (I don't remember anything actually; not even the names of my university profs; except one asshole, who used to call me to his office to warn me about the "dangers" of my poems!!! They were apparently, zede-velayat-e faghih! the same asshole would also pull my friend out of class for wearing perfume; the same asshole also forced us to come sit in front; since we were only two girls ... of course, in other classes, like "Islamic Morality" they would make us girls sit in the back of the class, such that out behinds would not distract the pious basijis who somehow flooded our university! Helas; the student associations that used to bother us, are now the center of "reform" and their members are in prison! And more often than not, I wish to shrug and say; FUCK THEM ALL: mousavi, karoubi, Ganji, Hajjarian, Ahmadinejad, Hashemi, Khamenei ... all of them ... I owe NOTHING to Iran, when I think of it ... now I made me cry! Thanks! )

Yes I remember the war ...

Roozbeh said...

The comedian chris rock once said, America for blacks is like an uncle who molest the child and then pays for his colleague.. When I lived in the US, i understood what it means, it just made clear sense to me what he meant. Then when I was reading about Josef Fritzel (the austrian guy who locked his daughter in a cellar and raped her), and in his defensive, he was in fact proud of this, as he was protecting his daughter from the danger of outside, I though he is Iran, not only locked and rape her children but she is proud of it!

Naj said...

very poignant analogy ...
...
now i need to quickly get off of the memory wagon; before I drown in bitterness ...