World: Middle East

Women's image revamped in Iran
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service.

The government in Iran says it's to revise the way in which women are portrayed in school textbooks to reflect changing views of their role in society. The education minister,Hussein Mozafar, said books for primary schools would be changed during the coming year, while those for older pupils would be revised later. But he gave no details of the proposed changes. A BBC regional analyst says the announcement follows growing public pressure on the government to recognise a new role for women in Iran. Our correspondent says that despite advances in some fields, women are still usually portrayed in textbooks and films as the mothers, sisters or daughters of central male characters, or obeying male superiors at work. President Khatami said last month that according to Islam, there was no difference between men and women.

Iran reinforces Koranic teachings in schools
TEHRAN, Sept 6 (Reuters)

Iranian children will start mandatory Koran lessons from their first year at school starting this academic year, an education official said in remarks published on Monday. "In the past, students had to take up Koran lessons from their third year but under the new programm all two million children in the first year will study the (Moslem) holy book," the newspaper Aftab-e Emrooz quoted the education ministry official as saying. The move is part of a drive by Iran's ruling clergy to encourage religious learning for children and youth in the face of what officials call a "Western cultural onslaught."