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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

IMPRESSIONS           PERSIAN EDUCATION                        253

Tor the traveller the greater part of Persian territory
is absolutely safe. I have ridden on horseback through
it at every season of the year, in some regions without
an escort, in others with Persian or Kurdish guards sup-
plied by the local authorities, and was never actually the
victim of any form of robbery, except the pilfering from an
unguarded tent. Though travelling with only an Indian
servant, I found the provincial authorities everywhere
courteous, and ready to aid my journey by every means
within their power, though in Persia as elsewhere I
never claimed, and indeed never received, any special
favour on the ground of sex.

A few darker shadows remain to be put in. There is
no education truly so called for Persians, except in Tihran,
and under the existing system the next generation is not
likely to be more enlightened than the present. All the
towns and the larger villages possess mosque schools, in
which the highest education bestowed is a smattering of
Arabic and a knowledge of the tales of Saadi. The
Persian characters are taught, and some attention is paid
to caligraphy, for a man who can write well is sure to
make a fair living. The parrot-like reading of the Koran
in Arabic is the summum lonum of the teaching. Very
few of the boys in the village schools learn to write,
but if a clever lad aspires to be a mirza, or secretary he
pays great attention to the formation of the Persian
characters, and acquires that knowledge of compliment,
phrase, and trope which is essential to his proposed
calling.

Beading, writing, and the elements of arithmetic are
usual among the bazar class and merchants, but with
the rest the slight knowledge of reading acquired in
childhood is soon forgotten, and the ability to repeat a
few verses from the Koran and a few prayers in Arabic
is all that remains of the mosque school "education."