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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 11:51 GMT
School Day 24: Iran-UK-US
Iran US UK school composite image

Students in Iran, the UK and the US are linking up to share their experiences on Wednesday 6 December.

Read about the schools taking part and then use the postform at the bottom of the page to send your questions.

Click on the links below to read more about the schools.

Islamic Azad University, Iran

Iranian students
Women make up the majority of the university's students

The Islamic Azad University was founded in 1982 as a private university in Iran.

It teaches undergraduates and postgraduates and has 300 branches all over the country as well as four branches overseas - in Dubai, England, Lebanon and Zanzibar.

More than a million students are enrolled in the university, with a majority being women.

It offers hundreds of study courses. So far 1.9m people have graduated from this university.

Many commentators credit the Islamic Azad University with changing post-revolutionary Iranian society. Its vast spread throughout the country, with campuses in small provincial towns, has enabled many young people - especially women - to attend university where in the past their parents would have been reluctant to send them away from home.

And it has proved popular because it is independent of government unlike Iran's other major universities.

The chancellor of the university is Dr Abdullah Jassbi, who obtained his PhD in England. He is a moderate technocrat close to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Since the new government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power there has been increasing political pressure on the Islamic Azad University with President Ahmadinejad trying to remove the chancellor.

Many liberal university professors forced into early retirement in state universities in the last year by the new government have found employment in the Azad University.

Meet the pupils:

Students at the Iran university
The Islamic Azad University has 300 branches across Iran
The Iranian students taking part in the link-up are studying English literature and translation.

They want to ask their American and British counterparts things like: what happens when they get married, what they think about Iranian students, what they usually do at weekends and during the evenings, what kinds of music they listen to and whether they want to visit Iran.

As this is their first such experience, they hope it will be an opportunity to show another face of Iran - different to the usual bad news that is reported.

They really want to make friends with their foreign counterparts and invite them to Iran to get to know each other.

Longsands College, Cambridgeshire, UK

Longsands college
Students at Longsands have been looking forward to the link-up
Longsands College is a large, lively state-run school in the town of St Neots in Cambridgeshire. It has nearly 1,700 students aged between 11 and 18.

Spread across a large site, the school is currently housed in 1960s buildings which although lovingly decorated by staff, with the help of a talented local graffiti artist, are coming to the end of their natural life.

The old buildings are due to be replaced by modern facilities over the next few years with the school remaining on the same site.  

The school is located in a suburban part of town surrounded by houses and a short walk from the main train station. St Neots itself is a prosperous rural market town with a population of around 28,000.

It's located on the River Great Ouse and is named after the Saxon monk St Neot whose bones were housed in the nearby priory. In recent years the area has benefited from the expansion of technology-based industries in and around nearby Cambridge, the town is growing rapidly as a result.

The school recently gained specialist status as a media arts centre. Staff are justifiably proud of the wide range of subjects offered to pupils which range from forensic science to film studies.

Iran US UK map
Originally a boiler room, the school's media unit now houses state-of-the-art computers, a video editing suite and a working radio studio.

The school is popular and successful. The latest government inspection described the school as very effective and distinctive with students who achieve very good results and are pleased to be there.

Pupils wear a relaxed uniform with navy blue polo shirts and sweat shirts embroidered with the school crest. Senior students are allowed, within reason, to wear what they like.

Since Longsands signed up to School Day 24, pupils have been gearing up for the big day and finding out more about what life is like for their fellow pupils in Iran and the USA.

TC Williams High School, Alexandria, US

Front of TC Williams High School, US
The school is a potent example of the move to greater racial integration

Fifty years ago racial segregation was one of the defining characteristics of American society.

Blacks in the southern states were treated as second or even third class citizens in all public places - including in schools.

The TC Williams High School in Alexandria, founded in 1965 and named after an education superintendent, is a potent example of the move to greater integration in the country's schools.

The city's education authorities found that, despite public schools being desegregated in 1959, Alexandria's three high schools continued to suffer from racial imbalance throughout the 1960s.

In 1971 therefore the city decided to merge the schools into one large school: the TC Williams public high school, known to everyone in the city as 'TC'.

The school today, which has about 2,000 pupils, bears witness to the success of that policy. It boasts a diverse student body: 43% black, 26% white, 25% Hispanic and 6% Asian.

The school's atrium is filled with hundreds of flags from countries that have been represented in the student body.

Not only that but that it's been successful both academically and in sport. The school football team - the Titans - have won three AAA state titles and the school has produced several Olympic athletes.

The school was made famous by the year 2000 movie Remember the Titans which depicted the move to a single integrated high school back in 1971 while focusing on the school's successful football team.

The school is one of the first in America to provide all its students with laptop computers. Students therefore submit most of their work to their teachers electronically.

In 2004 the Alexandria School Board approved the construction of an entirely new building for TC Williams. This will open on the same site in 2007.

What would you like to ask the pupils? Send your question using the postform below.

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UK and Iranian students discuss careers and culture


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