A new textbook on literature used in schools here begins with the songs and slogans of Irans's Islamic revolution. Instead of reading the great Persian poets, 11-year-olds learn such chants as "Khomeini, Khomeini, you are light from God," and "This American shah should be executed."
Similarly, history textbooks are being rewritten to emphasize Islam and the revolution that overthrew the rule of the shah 17 months ago. Hardly any mention is made of the ancient kings of Persia and eighth grade students in one school here were warned against reading pages of an old textbook that referred to the glories of the Pahlavi rule, which ended when the shah fled Iran Jan. 16, 1979.
Iran's new revolutionary authorities are engaged in a massive upheaval of the country's educational system from the primary grades through the universities. The universities have even been closed for an indefinite period until they can be made more Islamic and purged of Western influence.
To accomplish this, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's religious and political leader, today appointed a seven-man committee to cleanse the country's educational system of the "imperialist influences" left by the old government.
"The continuation of this same tendency, which is an unfortunate castastrophe, is the objective of foreign inspired elements," Khomeini said. "This is a deadly blow against the Islamic Republic, and any negligence, in the proper carrying out of our educational reforms would be outright treason against Islam and our Islamic republic."
He also called for changes in the high schools, which he said have "largely borne the stigma of the adverse influences, misleading and imperialistic curriculum." Changes, he said, would safeguard Iran's young "against deviation and decadence."
Deputy Education Minister Mohammed Javad Rajalayn said the universities will be closed "either 5 months or two years" while their curriculums are being changed. Meanwhile, "purge committees" in each university are preparing lists of students and professors who they believe do not follow the proper Islamic line. One committee, at work for five months, announced Wednesday its first "purge list" including the names of 200 professors, students and clerks.
This threat of sharp changes in Iran's educational system has raised great anxiety among many students and their parents.
One man, whose young daughter goes to an international school scheduled to be closed next year, wants to send his wife and child out of the country in the fall so the daughter can continue her studies. But it is hard; the government will not allow Iranians to take money out of the country for elementary or high school educations, and fewer Western nations will allow Iranians in.
It is at the university level, however, that the anxiety is the greatest.
"What am I going to do," said one yong man. "I was just about to get my degree when they closed the universities, and I cannot go to Europe to finish up."
President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr, a Western-educated economist who supports changes in Iran's educational system, called for a speed-up in the design of the new Islamic curriculum so the universities will not remain closed too long.
"I am against closing the universities," he said. "Destruction and reconstruction must take place in peace. Thousands of youths must not be made restless. How can we close down educational centers? Must thousands of youths be left under God's blessing without charting a proper and prudent program?"
He said closing the schools or changing thier curriculum to eliminate all Western influence could make Iran more dependent on the West by forcing it to import from abroad the engineers, technicians, doctors and scientists needed to run the country.
Yet the fundamentalist clergy who dominate political affairs have a great suspicion of Western-educated, technically trained people -- including Bani-Sadr.
Reflecting that view, Islamic Republic, the newspaper of the hard-line clerical Islamic Republican Party, wose members from a majority of the newly elected parliament, went so far as to say the new prime minister "must not be Europeanized and Westernized" and should not have a Western education.
The changes have already begun at the elementary and high schools level, where some books have been rewritten and others are being changed during the summer.
"We who make the books for you have tried so far as possible to clean dirty things from them and to write things that go with the greatness of the revolution," reads the introduction to a new text in Persian literature for 11-year-olds.
"We hope by next year we'll be able to write all books according to your thoughts and high spirits."
Even so, the writings of one of the greatest of Persian poets, Abol Hassan Fredowsi, is omitted, because his most famous work "Shahnameh" (The Book of Kings) is dedicated to ancient kings. Yet he is considered a major figure in Persian nationalism because he refused to use any Arabic words in his poems, sticking strictly to the Persian language.
"The children don't learn about any of the kings anymore except how bad they were," said one longtime high school teacher, who fears she might be among those purged.
Thus a new eighth grade history text features photographs of the revolution that overthrew the shah and brought Khomeini back to Iran from exile. The caption under one picture of the shah identifies him as "the chained dog of the U.S."
The examination for that class asked what was the most famous slogan during the revolution. According to one student, two answers were correct: "Death to the shah, and "Hail to Khomeini."