The education system in Iran is currently highly centralized. It is divided into higher education and k-12 education. It is the Ministry of education that works with the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology that controls the k-12 education in the country. The higher education institutes are both private and publicly owned.
The adult literacy rate is 85% in Iran, which is pretty bad when you consider that the adult literacy rate in Sir Lanka (a third-world country) is 98.1%. Still, the regional average with countries surrounding and in the region is 62%, so they are ahead of quite a few countries. The funding for education in Iran is now more than it is in many surrounding countries as the Iranian economy has improved a little in recent years.
Young adults have a literacy rate of 97% in the age range between 15 years old and 24 years old. This goes to show that a massive upheaval has clearly taken place recently, as the younger generation are now getting a good education. What is more puzzling, when you consider that the Muslim religion and its dogma are big in the country, is that there are no gender discrepancies. There are only slightly fewer female students than there are male students, which is very rare in a country where the Muslim/Islamic religion has taken hold, as the religion tends to require women to be downtrodden under the weight of male needs.
The student to workforce ratio in Iran is 10.2%, which is one of the highest students to workforce ratios in the world. The school-starting age in Iran is around five or size years of age. The last three years in school are not mandatory. If you do take the last few years in an Iranian school, then your time is divided into theoretical work and vocational work. There are programs with their own specialties.
If you wish to enter into higher education in Iran, then you need a school-leaving diploma, which is similar to the US High School diploma. You may also need to take a University entrance exam known as a Konkur, and they are similar to the SAT exams that students take in the USA. You will also have to take a pre-university course called a Peeshdaneshgahe if you want to get into higher education.
There have clearly been some changes in the education system in Iran just recently because it is the only way to explain how people up to the age of 24 are suddenly more literate and educated than people older than that age.
It is also surprising that the country only has a literacy rate of 85% when Iran is not a third-world country. Furthermore, what is more surprising is that female and male numbers are almost equal in Iran, which is not commonly seen in surrounding and in Asian colleges and schools. Even in developed and western countries we tend to see unbalanced male to female students, though in the west and in developed countries it tends to be more female students to male students rather than more males than females.