By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
ETS, the U.S.-based organization that administers the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and other exams, has said on its website that it is suspending temporarily registration in Iran as a result of the UN resolution affecting banks and financial institutions that do business with Iran.
The ETS statement reads:
The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution affecting banks and financial institutions that conduct business in Iran. As a result of this resolution, ETS is currently unable to process payments from Iran and has had to temporarily suspend registration until alternative arrangements can be made. Please check back after July 22 for an update.
The deputy head of Iran’s Organization for the Evaluation of Education, Ebrahim Khodayi, has said that there are “some problems” with the registration for the TOEFL test in Iran, adding that officials are working on solving them.
Khodayi said the suspension of the TOEFL test in Iran is not related to the sanctions and expressed hope that the issue will be solved by July 22.
A 20-year-old student in Tehran who didn’t want to be identified told RFE/RL that young Iranians willing to study outside the country would have to travel to neighboring Turkey or Armenia to pass the TOEFL test.
“It will just lead to more pressure on the people. Weren’t the sanctions not supposed to hurt ordinary citizens?” the student said. “This is against what the U.S. leaders have been saying.”
He added that the suspension of the TOEFL exam and similar problems resulting from the sanctions “will make people view sanctions negatively. The Revolutionary Guard will not be hurt by this. [Ordinary] people have to pay the price.”
Tehran-based education expert Shirzad Abdollahi told the Persian language service of the BBCthat no one expected the sanctions to cause problems for Iran’s educated class. “It just demonstrates that the claim about ‘smart sanctions’ is just a myth, and sanctions will cause more problems for people,” Abdollahi was quoted as saying.
Iranian officials have downplayed the UN sanctions and U.S. measures against Iran over its sensitive nuclear work, saying that those moves won’t make Iran change course.
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi said earlier this month that it is clear as day that UN sanctions will affect the Iranian economy and security and put pressure on the Iranian people.