Iran has banned the teaching of English in its primary schools, a senior education official has said.
Such lessons set the path for a western "cultural invasion", said Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run high education council.
"This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid," he explained on state television.
The move has been mocked in Iran, where children usually start learning English between the ages of 12 and 14, while some primary schools and young people from more privileged background often get extra tuition in the language.
Questions over teaching foreign languages have proved divisive at the highest levels of leadership in a country where fears of western influence are keenly felt.
In 2016, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Al Khamenei criticised English being taught to young children before Persian, using a speech to teachers to warn of a "promotion of a foreign culture" targeting Iranian youth.
"Western thinkers have time and again said that instead of colonialist expansionism ... the best and the least costly way would have been inculcation of thought and culture to the younger generation of countries," he said.
But Hassan Rouhani - the Islamic Republic's more moderate president - disputed the Ayatollah's comments, arguing that Iran's young, multilingual population could bring significant benefits for the country's economy.
NEW YORK: The influential New York Times has advised President Donald Trump to adopt ‘diplomatic tools’ while dealing with Islamabad as America ‘cannot afford to walk away from Pakistan’. In its editorial titled ‘Pakistan, the Endlessly Troublesome Ally’, the NYT suggested the administration to ‘harness his new friendships with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to shut down Haqqani and other Taliban fund-raising efforts in the Persian Gulf’. Pak-US ties hit rock bottom after a New Year tweet by Trump that accused Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’ and later cutting off security assistance worth $1.3 billion annually. He tweeted: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years,” he wrote, “and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” The editorial affirmed that Pakistan has provided ‘vital intelligence’ in global war against terrorism and the pressure on the ally will push it more ‘closely towards China, which is already investing in major new infrastructure projects and expanding its international leadership at America’s expense, and be more hard-line in its rivalry with India’. Referring to crucial supply lines for US military in Afghanistan, the NYT warned that Pakistan could shut Ground Lines of Communication as it did in 2011 after attack on a post at Afghan border. ‘Almost every military flight into Afghanistan goes through Pakistani airspace. Most supplies travel along Pakistani roads and rails. Pakistan could shut down American access at any moment, and some Pakistani officials are threatening to do just that.’ ‘Trump’s bombast and the precipitous way the decision seems to have been made have led to doubts that Mr. Trump has a serious plan for managing the ramifications of this move’, the editorial noted.