Making education a pivot of social justice
Social justice includes free or affordable provision of basic human needs such as civil rights, jobs, food, shelter, education, health care and recreation. It also includes economic, political, communal, cultural, territorial and international justice. In a just society people have equal rights and opportunities and discriminations of all and every type are constitutionally, legally and practically reprehensible and prohibited. Dr. Amirahmadi’s social justice programs will include a national drive for civil rights and well-paying jobs, scientific education, affordable and quality health care and suitable housing and recreation. More significantly, he will also initiate a ‘war’ on poverty, deteriorating public health, drug addiction, social crimes, corruption and discriminations. Education will form the core of Dr. Amirahmadi’s social policy. Every Iranian will be provided with a decent and affordable capacity-building education from primary schooling to post-graduate studies. Public and private schools, colleges and universities will be made affordable to all Iranians. All educational institutions will be closely monitored for the quality of their teaching, reach and public services. But they will be also directed towards producing skills and expertise that the nation requires to advance its scientific, technological and industrial infrastructures. To this end, funds for research and development (R&D) will be increased to about six percent of the Gross National Product (GNP), comparable to the levels in developed nations. He will pay for the programs by streamlining the bureaucracy.
Promoting participation of the youth in national development
Iran has a very young population. Some 65 percent of Iran’s 75 million plus population is below the age of 35. The needs of this section of the population are very basic, extensive and urgent. The youth requires such services as education, health care, sport and recreation. They need work, housing and capital. They want to form families, be free and enjoy a vibrant social life. And they want not only living security but also connection to the wider global society. Most of these basic needs are not provided for Iranian youth. As a result, apathy and disillusionment has become widespread among them and they are often caught in drug addiction and other rebellious social behaviors. They are hopeless and helpless, have no drive for self-promotion, and are always looking for a way to leave their country. This situation for the youth must change. Their basic needs must be met and they must be made hopeful of the future. Dr. Amirahmadi’s plan for the youth will strengthen the newly established Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, providing it with the resources required to uplift the youth’s living conditions in economic, political, social, and cultural spheres including work, education, health, sport and recreation.
Advancing women’s role as top managers and decision-makers
Despite many tough obstacles and discriminations, including the ubiquitous Islamic dress code, Iranian women have achieved significant progress, particularly in education and the labor markets. More than half of university students are women and women carry the lion’s share of family burdens, working at home and outside, both in cities and in villages. Yet, their place in top management and high decision-making positions remains vacant. This injustice must be remedied and Dr. Amirahmadi will use the campaign as an opportunity to bring recognition to this problem and push for the inclusion of women in the nation’s top jobs. Toward this aim, Dr. Amirahmadi as President will propose a new Ministry of Women and will equip it with the assets and instruments it needs to promote Iranian women’s place in society.
Promoting Iranian ethnic communities
Iran is a multi-ethnic nation and has been so for all its history and will have to remain so for eternity. This diversity is one of Iran’s major sources of national richness and beauty as well as a secret of its enduring cultural fullness and integrity. As a predominantly cultural nation, Iran must preserve this diversity and promote its health by a policy of true socio-economic, political and territorial inclusion and integration. The past discriminatory policy in favor of a few growth centers in the nation must be abandoned in favor of a policy of balanced provincial development. This requires a controlled decentralization of political, economic and social programs. The central administration will have to manage certain national functions and leave others to be administered at the provincial level. It is only unfortunate that some in the political community have called for ‘federalism’ as a solution to the nation’s ethnic administrative problems. The fact is that nowhere has federalism been a solution to such matters. Indeed, most federal states, such as the United States and Germany, have little ethnic problems and their adoption of a political federal system is meant to guarantee administrative decentralism. In the case of Iran, given its history, geography and level of development, a controlled decentralized system with a fitting form of fiscal federalism, where provincial and sectorial powers are balanced, should work best. Dr. Amirahmadi as President will promote such an administrative system.
Connecting expatriate Iranians to their homeland
Iran has ever been an immigrant-sending nation and in each period of its history, specific reasons have led to the flight of its people to neighboring countries and beyond. Until recently, economic reasons dominated and expatriates were primarily working people leaving Iran for neighboring countries in search of work or escaping oppression at the hands of landlords and courtiers. Lately, however, the majority of Iranians leaving their homeland are among the middle and upper classes, largely educated Iranians, who primarily go to the West; they are pushed from their homeland by a combination of economic, political and social reasons. While accurate statistics are hard to come by, an estimated five million Iranians live in countries around the world, mainly in the West. Among them are many scientists, educators, professionals, artists, businessmen, media personalities and the intelligentsia. They form a significant national asset and the nation cannot afford to lose them forever. This brain drain is caused largely by internal push factors such as a lack of adequate high-level educational and research opportunities, a chronic shortage of job and business prospects, and suffocating socio-political limitations. Governments have often tried in vain to return the expatriates to their homeland for technical assistance or investment using nationalistic sentiments. Dr. Amirahmadi’s Government will reverse this brain drain by ceaselessly struggling against red tape, corruption and discrimination of all types and forms, as well as by providing for the multidimensional spiritual, material and socio-political needs of the expatriates and others still in the country. Meanwhile, Dr. Amirahmadi believes that the Iranian expatriates must be viewed as residing in a ‘virtual province’ of Iran outside its political borders. As such, they must also be entitled to a ‘Provincial Government’ or a ‘Ministry of Expatriates.’ Such organizations are needed because, first, most Iranian expatriates will not permanently physically return to their homeland; second, the children of expatriates are not attuned to the Iranian way of life and will want to live in their country of birth. In addition, globalization has made immigration a natural phenomenon, meaning many Iranians will continue to live outside their homeland. Therefore, the best and most efficient way to benefit from the expatriate community is to organize them and then reconnect them in real and virtual ways to their homeland.
Streamlining social-welfare programs and policies
The basic needs of all Iranians must be met. Programs for job creation and education should help reduce unemployment, increase personal incomes and reduce poverty. They should also help mitigate other social ills such as youth drug addiction. However, continued civil strife, war, sanctions and mismanagement or just sheer neglect have produced a society that is gripped by many ills that require focused attention. Poverty and social imbalances are most critical. Welfare and distributional programs such as subsidies, bank credit, unemployment insurance and access to basic health care have to be better streamlined and managed for maximum efficiency and equity. The country’s public health has deteriorated and communicable diseases like AIDS are spreading at alarming speed. Just visit the public bathrooms in the nation; they are simply awful! A national, well-funded sanitation programs, with essential physical and educational dimensions, needs to be instituted to upgrade sewer systems and clean public spaces in order to maintain high hygiene levels.
Promoting social capital and eliminating discrimination
Iran today has become a nation of mistrust and hostility caused by division and corruption as well as greed and selfish interests. This must change and Dr. Amirahmadi will work relentlessly to promote a culture of social capital, unity and public interests. Towards this aim, he will promote cooperation and coordination towards a true reconciliation among hostile political factions, uniting them around national interests. Dr. Amirahmadi will also strategize his policies toward the elimination of unfair, unequal and discriminative conditions that prohibit citizens from participating in the political fate of the nation and enhance national trust. This will be based on ‘actualization’ of ‘equal opportunity’ for all citizens which is a clear goal of Iran’s 20-year perspective document.