Hekmat becomes minister of education

On 17 September 1933 ‘Ali Asghar Hekmat was appointed minister of education.12 Sadiq claims that the designated prime minister Forughi and Davar, who was once more appointed minister of finance in the new cabinet, had first offered this post to him. He rejected it because he felt that the duties of a minister would have left but little time for the realization of his goals. As rector of the Teachers College he believed he was in a position that would allow him to implement the insights he had gained in thirty years of studies and work experience. In his memoirs he intimates that this decision was not easy for him: deeply aggrieved and saddened he returned home, unable to sleep for the whole night because deep in his heart he would have preferred to carry out his reform plans himself.13 He who had worked for years planning and preparing the establishment of the university felt deep regret that he should be put in the shadow of a politician who until then had contributed very little but - a fact that Sadiq could not know at that time - would by virtue of his eminent position be remembered as the one who opened the University of Tehran.14

It cannot be denied that Hekmat made a major contribution to the development of the Iranian system of higher education during those years. But it was only by coincidence that the founding of the University of Tehran occurred in the first of his four consecutive terms as minister of education (the last one ended in 1939). The idea of founding a university had already existed and been discussed long before, and preparations for the establishment of a university had been under way already for years, with delays and procrastinations caused by administrative obstacles and the dismissal or resignation of those politicians who were in favour of the idea. However, according to Hekmat’s memoirs it was only in February 1934 that during a cabinet meeting in the presence of Reza Shah the idea of establishing a university emerged. Talking about Tehran’s new magnitude and splendour Prime Minister Forughi and the other ministers surpassed each other in the glorification of Reza Shah. As the turn came to the minister of education he - by “divine inspiration” - argued that although there was no doubt about the positive development of Tehran the city was still lacking a university to complete her fortune. The shah is reported to have reflected for a moment and then said: “Very good. Build it!” The minister of finance Davar set aside 250,000 tuman in the budget for the following year to be assigned to the Ministry of Education for the building of the university while Hekmat was commissioned with the construction of the university campus.15

 
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