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Iran's New Plan To Boost Population: Students Who Get Pregnant Get Higher Grades

The Iranian regime has been trying different methods to encourage people to have children. Most have failed, for economic reasons.

Black and white image of people on a bridge in Ahvaz, Iran.

White Bridge, Ahvaz, Iran.


Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei believes that population growth makes for a nation's strength, and he wants Iran's to be replenished and increased.

That has reshaped state policies for some years now in favor of marriage and procreation and against contraception, abortion and Western-style single living. The higher education ministry now wants to do its part, and has informed universities that teaching staff can expect promotional credits "for every pregnant student" or mother-and-toddler student in their class.

The directive dated April 25 is in line with the Law to Safeguard the Family and Rejuvenate the Population, and applies to all higher education institutions. It effectively means lecturers keen to obey the state may beat quality academics to professorial positions.

Image of a man and a woman carrying a baby in the streets of Iran.

A family walking in the streets of Iran.

Arian Malek khosravi

Demographic diktat

The population law, and these instructions are sourced from the General Population Policies designed by Khamenei in May 2014. Not that the state has gotten far boosting the population by diktat.

Worsening economic conditions, as well as reports of pervasive depression among youngsters, particularly women, are doing a better job of dissuading Iranians from having more children. In 2016, the head of the country's statistics agency was cited as saying that every year, there were fewer marriages and the marriage age was rising.

Abortion figures in Iran are "calamitous".

In April-May 2021, Hamed Barakati, a health ministry official, noted that total births in Iran had dropped from 1.57 million in the Persian year to March 20, 2016 to 1.12 million in the year to March 20, 2021. Marriages, he said then, dropped from a little under 900,000 a year to around 500,000 broadly in the 2011-21 decade. Abortions however, while illegal, have spiked, and 70-80% were done illegally, according to another ministry official, Suleiman Heidari.

Speaking last month to the ISNA news agency, he described abortion figures in Iran as "calamitous".

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Migrant Lives

Latin America's Migrants Trying To Reach The U.S.: Risk It All, Fail, Repeat

Searching for a safe home, many Latin American migrants are forced to try, time after time, getting turned away, and then risk everything again.

Photograph of thousands of migrants marching  to the US-Mexican border under the rain.

06 June 2022, Mexico, Tapachula: Thousands of migrants set off north on foot under the rain.

Daniel Diaz/ZUMA
Alejandra Pataro

BUENOS AIRES — With gangsters breathing down his neck, Maynor sold all of his possessions in Honduras, took his wife and three kids aged 11, 8 and 5, and set out northwards. He was leaving home for good, for the third time.

"I had to leave my country several times," he said, "but was deported." He was now trying to enter the U.S. again, but the family had become stuck in Mexico: "Things are really, really bad for us right now."

Migration in Latin America is no longer a linear process, taking migrants from one place to another. It goes in several directions. Certain routes will take you to one country as a stopover to another, but really, it's more a lengthy ordeal than a layover, and the winners are those who can find that receptive, welcoming community offering work and a better life.

The aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls this an international, multidirectional phenomenon that may include recurring trips to and from a home country.

Marisol Quiceno, MSF's Advocacy chief for Latin America, told Clarín that migrants "are constantly looking for opportunities and for food security, dignified work opportunities (and) healthcare access." These are the "minimum basics of survival," she said, adding that people will keep looking if they did not find them the first time around.

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