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29 May 2009

2849) Supervision Of The Ottoman State Of The Armenian Schools

Assist Prof Dr. Mustafa Murat ÖNTUĞ
Usak University Education Faculty / Usak


With the “Declaration of Modernization”, non-Muslims in the Ottoman State gained the freedom to open schools. This proved to be especially advantageous for Armenians. Armenian Schooling gained an impetus through financial support of affluent Armenians and Armenian Cultural Associations. Armenian Cultural Associations were merged in 1880 and the Organization of Armenian Schools was established. This central organization attempted to organize the curricula of the Armenian Schools and to establish the minimum educational qualifications for teachers of these schools. . .

Following the 1878 Berlin Agreement, the issue of Armenians was turned into an international problem and the Armenian Nationalist Movements increased significantly. In a relatively short period of time, the Armenian Nationalist Propaganda carried out in the Armenian churches and schools became widespread across the country and caused Armenian terrorist activities to increase. As a result of the protective politics and intensive missionary activities of the imperialist states in the Gregorian Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire, the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul was divided into three segments which are greogrian, chatholic, and protestan cults.

Around 1879, it was clearly seen that nationalist feelings were widespread amongst the Armenian priests. The Armenian archbishops openly proposed and favored the right to express their national identity and national autonomy. At the same time, the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul openly encouraged the Armenian community to separate from the Ottoman State. As a consequence, children in Armenian Schools were full of ideas concerning an Armenia State. It was in this climate that the Ottoman State substantiated the pressures from major Eurporean powers on Armenian schools which were growing rapidly and beyond the State’s control. Therefore, the Ottoman State took some measures against these schools around the last quarter of the 19th century. After careful analysis and evaluations of the documents to be found at the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives, we could argue that aims of the measures taken by the Ottoman State were not the closure of the Armenian Schools or the abolishment of their right to be educated. Supporting the argument, there were 120 Armenian Schools in Anatolia whereas this figure went up to nearly 840 (40 of which were in Istanbul) in 1900. This study aims to investigate below issues in the light of the archive documents:

. What approach was taken by the Ottoman State towards Armenian Schools, and
. How the supervision of the rapidly growing Armenian Schools was provided by the Ottoman State,
. Managerial precautions taken by the Ottoman State for the Armenian schools, such as not allowing Muslim children to be educated at the Armenian schools, controlling the courses that were allowed to be taken and providing financial support by the State for the Armenian Schools.


Armenian schools were not encountered until the end of 18th century1. Until this century, some religious education institutions existed. The first official Armenian school was opened2 in 1790 by Amira Miricanyan in Egin on Kumkapi Ficici Street. In the same year, the Mesropian School was opened in Izmir3. From that date on the number of the Armenian schools increased. The Armenian Patriarch Karabet sent letters in 1824 to the Armenian community in Anatolia, ordering schools to be opened in every province and since then schools were opening all over Anatolia 4.

There was an administratively effective and financially rich group within the Armenian social classes called “Amira”. They played an important role on the Armenian’s development. The Armenian schools were quite progressive and increased in number with the church and Amira’s assistance. However, the educational system which the Amira had applied caused some friction between them and middle class Armenian mercants. In 1853, the Armenians had formed an Educational Commission which consisted of 14 persons and took control from the Amiras. In 1856, after the proclamation of “Emprial Improvement Decree”, the “Regulations for the Nationals of Armenians” were announced on March 18, 18635, authorization was given to the Armenians to open their own schools. Thus, the supervision of the Armenian schools definitely slipped away from the Amiras and passed to the Educational Commission.

In 1880, the Armenian cultural societies united and formed Miatsial Enkerutiun Hayots (The Armenian Schools League). This central unit tried to put the educational programs in order and to designate the minu-

1 Osman Ergin, Turkish System of Education History, C: I-II, İstanbul, 1977, p.750.
2 Osman Ergin,a.g.e,p.751; Ilknur Polat, The Foreign Schools in the Ottoman Empire, Ankara,1993,p.173
3 Ergin, a.g.e, p.752
4 Ergin, a.g.e, p.752
5 Ergunoz Akcora, “The Armenian Uprisings and its effects on the Turkish-Armenian relations during Ottoman State Period”. (Editor: Hasan Celal Guzel) The Armenian Issue from the Ottoman Period up to Present, Ankara, 2001, p.125.

mum qualifications required for the teachers66. The Armenians School League had formed foundations for the institutions which would be opened. It was reveal by the various firmans that the necessary financial assistance for the churches, schools and others would be supported by the church foundations. Some school appendixes were also financially assisted by charity chests and besides those there were a hospital chest and a patriarchy chest7.

The Armenian schools were being opened by different associations and persons. The Hayoc Mihacyal Ingerrutyan Association which was established in 1870 opened more than 100 schools in many places in Anatolia. The Azkaniver Hahucyan Ingerrutyan Association which was established in 1879 founded 23 schools in Anatolia. The Tibracaser Dignanc Ingerrutyan Association was opened in Ortakoy at 1879 and trained teachers for the schools in Anatolia. Besides schools which the associations opened more than 20 schools were opened by Armenian individuals8.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 40 Armenian schools in Istanbul. In the 57 provinces in central Anatolia, there were 59,513 male students, 21,713 female students and 2,088 teachers in 813 Armenian schools. In 1901-1902, there were 104,500 Armenian students in private primary schools, private secondary schools and official secondary schools as well as the Catholic, Protestant, Latin and foreign schools9. The

6 Selcuk Aksin Somel, “The Community Schools and the Foreign Missionary Schools”, The Ottoman Civilization 1, (Yay Haz). Halil Inalcik, Gursel Rendan), İstanbul, 2003, p.388-3 94.
7 The Armenian Schools were formed by church chest and the Armenian rich people’s charities. See Mustafa Murat ÖNTUĞ, “ The Armenian Church in Balikesir and the School Opening Actions “ The Balikesir symposium, 17-20 November.2005; There were charity chests of the church and the endowed trust funds, to maintain the education activities for the Armenian Schools, in Gaziantep. See Yusuf Cetin, The Education In Gaziantep at the Beginning of XX. century (1900-1930), (AKU.Social. Science Institute Unprinted Master’s Dissertation, Afyon, 1999), p.77-93.
8 Ergin, a.g.e, p.762-765.
9 Ergin, a.g.e, p.760; The Armenian Issue by all Directions, (Haz, Yavuz Özgüldür, Ali Güler, Suat Akgül, Mesut Köroğlu), Kara Harp Okulu Basımevi, Ankara, 2001, p.152.

Armenian schooling accelerated during the 2nd Constitutional Monarchy, especially between 1908 and 1914. In Istanbul and in many places of Anatolia, the Armenians had applied for permission to open schools in the courtyards of churches10. In this period the educational policies of the Armenians were moderate, and generally they were reacting to the government with understanding11. The Armenians’ attempts to open schools during those years of the Ottoman State were difficult.

The Armenians taught with books which they printed in their own printing houses. As it has been acknowledged, the first printing house was established in Istanbul in 1492 by the Jews. Later the Romans and Greeks established printing houses. Between 1567 and 1923, the Armenians had established 131 Armenian printing houses in Istanbul and 63 throughout Anatolia. A total of 598 periodicals and newspapers were printed in these printing houses. Up to 1850, the number of printed books in the Armenian language in Istanbul, of which 14 are undated, was 525.12.


The Ottoman State had considered education to be a religious and congregation privilege. The non-Islamic people of the Ottoman State administered their school as how they established their own schools.

Each community had schools next to their church, synagogue or place of worship. The schools at the first level of the education were administrated by the local community; the secondary schools and the teacher training institutes were administered by the “Armenian National Organization”.

The schools were a total of autonomous. The students in these community schools were taught in their national languages and the education programs were organized as they wished. The State, in the beginning, did not supervise these schools and found it unnecessary to supervise them. Especially foreing powers easily penetrated those community schools,

10 Süleyman Büyükkarcı, İstanbul Armenian Schools, Konya, 2003, p.67-68.
11 Mustafa Ergün, The Educational Movements during the 2nd Constituonal Monarchy Period. (1908-1914), Ocak Yay, Ankara, 1996, p.372-373.
12 The Armenian Issue by all Directions, p.43.

later those schools could be used to get the foreing powers political ambitions on the Ottoman State.

The most important educational arrangement for the non-Islamic people was “The General Education Regulations”, announced in 1869.

The first article of the order left the control of the private schools to the State; Article 129 required permission of the State for school openings; Article 143 required one Muslim and one non-Muslim member to be on the Provincial Educational Council; Articles 148 and 149 gave the authorization to the inspectors to control the schools.

In 1876, in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, the private and public education possibilities were recognized and the States’ control over the schools was clarified. The 1881 in Rumelia East Province announced legal control of the schools. Article 99 of the Ottoman Constitution indicated that all primary schools education was permitted to be controlled by inspectors13.

After 1908, the Education Ministry attempted to control the non-Muslim schools and their programs, putting the teacher appointments in order and making Turkish education compulsory, but the community leaders objected and proclaimed that they had religious privileges. After much debate, on October 6, 1913 (23 September 1329) a law was provisionally passed, called “The Temporary Law of the Primary School Education”, and thus continued the actions of taking the schools under State control. In 1915 and with a law called “The Private Schools’ Directives” for the first time, community schools were under State control14.

By the time the regulation of the schools was released in 1915, the Ottoman State had taken some preventive measures against the community schools in order to gain control over its instruction and administration. According to the regulations, the non-Muslim schools were limited in number, permission was required to hire foreign personnel and the Turkish language, Turkish history and Turkey’s geography were to be taught in Turkish and by Turkish teachers.

13 M. Hidayet Vahapoğlu, The Minority and Foreign Schools from The Ottoman up to the Present, MEB, İstanbul, 1997 p.158.,
14 The State could not fulfill this order. More detailed information, see Vahapoğlu, a.g.e, p.137-140.

The Ottoman State seemed to be little bit late to put the regulations on the community schools. For example, Regulations for administrating the Armenian Lusavoricakan Church in Russia were released on March 11, 183615. The regulations had 10 sections and 141 articles16. The eighth section was about the Lusavoricakan Armenian Church’s Spiritual School.

Articles 112-115 were on education, charities to be collected and the administration of education. Article 113 of this regulation stated that the schools at the Ecmiyazin Monastery were strictly under the responsibility of the Lusavoricakan Armenian Patriarchy and the other schools were under the decision of local delegates. Artcle 114 remarked that, apart from the sciences and the theoretical education given in schools, the Russian language, Russian history and geography should be given attention.

Article 115 noted that charity might be collected at the churches and the monasteries for the schools. Article 116 was about the yearly income and expenditures and the left-over sum that should be reported to the officer who was in charge. As clearly understood from these regulations in 1915 the Ottoman State had organized control over the schools of the Armenian Community and urged the teaching of the Turkish language, 15 This regulation was found at the house of a priest in Bandirma during a search in a chest.Also, in the same chest some 87 pieces of books were found which some of them were printed in foreign countries and the remainigs were printed in Izmir and İstanbul, when the permission way was not in power and including some demagable knowledges, only 4 of them was printed by the official permission of the Educational Ministry.Also, in the same chest there were 22 of messages belonging to the Armenian Catholic and 30 of them belonging to individual persons and given at Bandirma, a total of 52 messages and 4 pieces of passing permission existed. (15Ca 1320/ 20.aug.1902 BOA. Y.MTV/ 233/96).

16 The chapters and articles of the regulations are: Chapter (1-9) The Losavoricakan Armenian Church’s Legal and General Privilages; 2.Chapter (10-32) On the Supreme Patriarch of Ecmiyazin; 3.Chapter (33-54) The Sinyori of Lusavoricakan Armenian Church; 4. (55-71) Chapter One the Priests of Lusavoricakan Armenian Churches; 5.Chapter (72-82) The Spritual Thoughts and Spritual Administrations of Lusavoricakan Armenians; 6. Chapter (83-110) On the Monasteries;7

Chapter (102-111) Priests; 8.Chapter (112-116) The Spritual Schools of the Lusavoricakan Armenians Churches; 9.Chapter (117-126) The Administration of The Lusavoricakan Armenians Goods and Real Estate; 10 Chapter (127-141) On The Lusavoricakan Armenian Church’s Spritual Officiers and Regular Priest’s Income and their Widowed Wife and Orphan Children’s Food Supply and Administration.

Turkish history and geography by the Turkish teachers. But this control was provided in 1836 in Russia, over the Armenian schools in a more expanding system.

Especially in the last quarter of the 19th century, the inspection of the Armenian schools had grown. The reasons for this were that, in many places in Anatolia, the Armenians caused various actions mentioned below and behind of these actions the Armenian schools and churches existed. The Armenian case became an international problem, and with the 1878 Berlin agreement, the Armenian nationalization movements increased. In the Armenian churches and schools, which were spread over the country, the nationalist propaganda had caused terrorist actions.

Between 1882 and 1909, the Armenians, in order to establish a state on the Turkish lands, had formed some terrorist organizations17. It can clearly be seen in reports by the Armenian groups which were collected by General Huseyin Nazim18that these organizations attempted many bloody actions.

The communities of the Armenian Patriarchy in Istanbul divided into three after intensive missionary actions by the imperialist countries. Besides the Gregorian Armenian Church, the Catholic Armenian Church was established in 1831 and the Protestant Armenian Church established in 185019. This situation increased the rivalry between Armenian Churhes and made unhappy Istanbul Armenian Gregorian Church. By 1879 the nationalist feelings of the Armenian priests had increased. The Armenian bishops were expressing their nationalist feelings openly and talking about the autonomy and independence. The Istanbul Patriarchy

17 Cevdet Küçük, The Rising of the Armenian Issue in the Ottoman Diplomacy 1878-1897, The Foundation of the Turkish World Investigations İstanbul, 1986, s.99-174; Mehmet Saray, The Turkish-Armenians relations and Armenia, İstanbul, 2003, p.38-54; Şenol Kanarcı, “The Armenian Issue Within it’s Historical Dimention” Eğitim, (Special Issue), S.38, Ankara, 2003, p.22-25.

18 The Armenian Occurence History, I-II, T.C. The Prime Ministry State Archives General Administration, The Ottoman Archives General Management, Ankara, 1994.
19 Davut Kılıç, “, The Reflect of England’s the Middle East Policies to the Ottoman Armenians on XIX. century.” The Turkish World Investigations, S: 117, 1998, p.157-161.

was clearly supporting the separation of the Armenian Community from the Ottoman State20. In 1869, when Migirdic was selected as the Armenian Patriarch he left his religious duties aside and occupied himself with the political work. In 1885 he became the Catholicos of the Ecmiyazin Church found in Russia. For example, the Patriarch Migirdic Hirimyan in Van had formed a printing house and released newspapers called “Eagle of Van” and “Eagle of Mus”, printing false information, such as the Turkish people torturing the Armenians, in order to legalize the actions of the Armenian armed bands. In addition, he gave lessons covering the Armenian culture to the Armenian priests and youngsters who were gathered around him. Unfortunately, these kinds of examples show that the Armenian religious leaders had provoked the Armenian community to revolt21. Mr. Kamuran Gurun had expressed the reality succinctly: “In fact, we should not talk on the Armenian State, or the Armenian Nation or Armenian history, but we have to talk on the Armenian Churches and the Armenian Church State. The Armenian Church, in order to keep its existence, needs a power and a state. The idea of the Armenian State was not born from the Armenian people, but from the Armenian Church”22.

Although in Russia, the tsardom was confiscating Armenian property, closing Armenian schools and dismissing Armenian teachers and administrators, the Ottoman State permitted to open new schools and also repaired the ones which needed to be repaired23. In 1903, the tsardom of Russia had confiscated the Armenian property in Russia. In February 1885 600 Armenian schools were closed and in June 1897 in order to “protect the new generation from the negative effects of the Armenian priests” 320 Armenian primary schools were closed and some of the

20 Justin McCarthy, the Death and Exile, (by. Bilge Umar), İstanbul, 1998, p.128.
21 Erdal İlter, “The Armenian Church and Terror,Eğitim, (Special Issue), S.38, Ankara, 2003, p.80-84; The Armanian Issue by all directions, p.139-143.
22 Kamuran Gürün “The Armenian Issue or How to create an Issue “, The symposium of “The Armenians in the Turkish History”, İzmir, 1983, p.30.
23 Regarding this issue, in the Ottoman Archives, There are many approved documents
about who took permission for repairs and for new church and school buildings.

To be example of bkz. BOA. İ.HR.123/6172; İ.HR.140/7346; İ.HR. 164/8773; İ.HR. 170/9215; İ.MMS. 27/1159; İ.DH. 803/65031; İ.DH. 1040/1752 İ.DH. 1077/84499; DH.KKT. 1500/12; DH.MUİ. 52-1/37.

remaining 31 schools whose teachers who had no Russian diplomas and the administrators who did not pay the necessary money were closed. In 1915, there were purportedly 1800 Armenian churches in the Ottoman State. Actually, there were not so many. In 1834, in Anatolia, while there were 120 Armenian Schools in existence; in 1900, this number was closer to 840 with 40 in Istanbul24.

The Ottoman State tried to control the Armenian schools and churches under its supervision instead of what Russia did, like closing schools25. Pierre Loti, the renowned French writer who lived in Istanbul, stated the fact that “There are missionaries all over and are deceiving the Armenians…The Armenian committees trying to incite the silent people, farmer, guilds and porters and driving them against the Turks by saying the Turks are attacking the religion and Christianity. However, from Trabzon to Erzurum all the roads are full with churches, monasteries and the Armenian schools are much freer than Russia’s”.

The Armenian group leaders had commenced a mobilization of education, stating the importance of education for the future. The priests were in charge of teaching people in villages how to read and write where there were no schools and teachers, at least to teach how to sign26. Unfortunately the Armenian schools also became, like the churches, a nest of disturbance by teaching Turkish enmity to the young generations27. In

24 Ergin, a.g.e, s.753; İlknur Polat, “The Armenian and the American-Armenian Schools which broke off the Armenians from the Ottoman “, The Arminean Reserches 1, The proclamation of the Congress of Turkey C-: I, ASAM-The Institute of Armenian Researches, Ankara, 2003, s.472; Polat, a.g.e, p.173.

25 The Armenian Issue by all ways, s.164
26 İlter, a.g.m, s.82-83.
27 There are many documents in the Otoman archives proving that the teachers of the Armenian schools in Anatolia were suggesting negative propaganda on the Otoman State to the student at the schools of the Armenians. For ex: TheSivas Armenian schools teacher Manuk Efendi’s home were closed, because of the way speeching the people at nights without any permisin. (29 C 1304/ 25 March 1887) BOA. DH.KKT. 1407/32; also Tokat Armenian school teacher Papaysan and his nephew’s Mardinos and Revin were putting up some labels around and publishing newspaper without licence, and this was informed to the Justice Ministry (24 B 1304/ 18 Nisan 1887) DH.MKT. 1413/63; On the same way (4 Ş 1304/
28 April 1887) DH.MKT. 1416/54 some harmful documents were captured

1876, the Ararathian Association member, educator Migirdic Portugalyan, established a teacher’s school in Van. However, the school was closed because they were teaching rebellious ideas against the Ottoman State.

The students of this school organized a secret revolutionary organization called Armenekan in 1885. They also had incited the innocent Armenian villagers against the Ottoman State28.

This situation became the news for some foreign newspapers. On July 19, 1891 (12 Z 1308) a newspaper which was published in Marseilles29 wrote that some unsupervised behaviours were carried out in the schools of the Armenian Patriarchy and in old times (during Education Minister General Munif ’s time) it was compulsory to give prior information to the Ministry on speeches by the students during the distribution of prizes, but that information wasn’t given by the Armenian Patriarchy any longer. However, after various warnings, the Armenian schools stated that these prize distribution ceremonies would not been carried out for the year. Thus, it is thinkable that the Armenian Patriarchy was acting independently in school events. The number of increasing Armenians Schools attracted Istanbul’s attention and increased administrative pressure continuously. Finally, in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Ottoman State was urged to take some preventive measures against the uncontrolled Armenian schools which were increasing in number. Still the purpose of these measures could be considered not to close them up and take away their educational freedom, but we think only to take them into a system.


The Ottoman State, in the last quarter of the century, had increased the administrative pressures on the Armenian Schools caused by the Armenian uprising. It is acknowledged that in the Ottoman State’s at the Hisnimansur and Malatya Armenian schools were reported to the Prime Ministry (10 N 1305/ 21 May 1888) DH. MKT. 1512/67; also The Hinca (new voice) newspaper which was sent to the teacher of Erzurum Armenian school was prohibited to enter into the country due to it’s harmful printed includings (10 N 1305/ 21 Mayıs 1888) DH. MKT. 1512/67

28 Somel, a.g.m, s.394-395.
29 BOA. PRK. ZB. 8/92.

regulations and laws in 1869, 1881, 1908 and 1913, there were some articles relating to the control of the Armenian schools. However, the State was not satisfied with only these laws and regulations. Besides these and up to the date of “Regulation on Private Schools” release, it will be explained what sort of precautions were taken to keep the schools under governmental supervision.

As a first step, the lessons which were taught in the Armenian schools, the history of the Armenian community and Armenian Church, were banned. Ottoman history became the replacement in the schools (See Documents 1, 2). After some investigations done by the Education Ministry, it is found that there was detrimental information about the Ottoman State in the Armenian history books which were taught in the schools. On March 24, 1884 (22 Recep.1306) an informative note, which was sent by the Education Ministry to the Armenian Patriarch, had not been read by the Patriarch in the Armenian Assembly chosen by Armenian people living in the Ottoman State and in return was told to an unknown person that such behaviours drove away Armenians from the Ottoman State. The Armenian Patriarch expressed the wish to continue teaching Armenian history after cleaning up the damage and wrong information30 about Ottoman history in the schoolbooks. In the same way, the vice patriarch in Van mailed a telegram to Istanbul Armenian Patriarch on April 1, 1889 (20.March.1305) expressing that to teach the Ottoman history instead of the Armenian history is to impoverish the Armenians about their own history and to make a decision after reconsideration of the subject by Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul. The Education Ministry ordered the Armenian Patriarchy to stop teaching Armenian history and replace it with the Ottoman history on April 2, 1889 (Gurre-Saban 1306)31. The reason of the State’s decision is the existence of information in the Armenian history books against the State. Education Ministry’s Commission inspected the book and found that the wrong and harmful knowledge was eliminated and gave permission

30 BOA. İ.DH. 1127/88079.
31 BOA. İ.DH. 1137/88788

for it to be printed; however, the book was printed exactly the same that
was before with disregard for the Education Ministry32

The Education Ministry also remarked in its note to the Armenian Patriarch that those types of books, which are giving unfair ideas to the Armenian children, shouldn’t be studied in the schools and control was needed of the contents. As understood from the writings between the Ottoman Prime Ministry and the Armenian Patriarch, the idea of abolishing Armenian history and replacing it with Ottoman history was challenged vigorously. The Ottoman State also had precautionary measures on other books which were studied in the Armenian schools. Accordingly, a list of books which would be taught in the Armenian schools would be sent to the Ministry by the Armenian Patriarchy and after inspection by the Education Ministry permission would be given.

On February 8, 1894 (2 Saban.1311) the books which would be taught in the Armenian schools was listed33. The catalogs were bilingual, in Turkish and Armenian languages. There were 146 books divided by subjects; the number of books covering the subject area, their place of publication, the author’s language, and dates of publication were indicated

(See Table 1).
Table -1 The distribution of books used in the Armenian schools

Subject The Number Of Books Language Author Date Of Publication

1 Religious Education (Ulum-ı Diniye) 12 Armenian Armenian 1881-1892
2 Armenian Language and Literature 35 Armenian Armenian 1884-1893
3 Turkish 40 Turkish Armenian 1884-1892
4 French 9 French Armenian 1886-1893
5 English 4 English Armenian 1885-1892
6 Mathematic (İlm-i Hesap) 13 Armenian Armenian 1883-1893
7 History (General, Armenian, Ottoman) 8 Armenian Armenian 1884-1892
8 Geography 9 Armenian and Turkish Armenian and Turkish 1884-1893
9 Finance (İlm-i Servet-i Milel) 4 Armenian Armenian 1883-1891
10 Philosophy (Filosofiye) 2 Armenian Armenian 1868
11 Philosophy (İlm-i Hikmet) 6 Armenian Armenian 1883-1892
12 Health (Hıfzu’s-Sıhha) 1 Armenian Armenian 1886

32 BOA. İ.DH. 1137/88788.
33 BOA. Y.PRK.TKM. 30/50.

Subject The Number Of Books Language Author Date Of Publication

13 Accounting (Usul-ı Defter) 1 Armenian Armenian 1884
14 Writings (Hüsn-I Hatt) 2 Armenian, French, Turkish Armenian 1890-1893 As seen in the table, a total of 146 books in 14 subjects were permitted to be taught in the Armenian schools by the Education Ministry. Almost all were written in the Armenian language. In addition, nearly all the authors were Armenians (only one geography book was written in Turkish) and most of them were printed in the Armenian printing houses in Izmir and Istanbul between 1884 and 1893. A few of them were printed in England and Venice. Only one book, which was prepared by Hasan Ferit, is in Turkish and titled New Geography Atlas Map and was printed at the Chef ’s Printing House34.

The Ottoman State, because of Kumkapi Armeninan Unrest, had to close up some Armenian schools in Eastern Anatolia, being in doubt about activities against the State, and they also abolished the Armenian Schools’ General League in 1893.35 The State did not wish the Muslim students to be influenced from negative information. For this reason, they required that Muslim students not be allowed to attend Armenian schools, such as in Ankara and Aydin and in other big provinces, and if there were any, requested them to stop and asked the governors of the provinces to control constantly for this. On this direction, on November 2, 1893 (21 Tesrin-i evvel.1309) the coded telegram from the Governor of Aydin, Hasan Fehmi, stating36; “Neither in the centre nor in its vicinity of the province there were 16,000 Armenian students in the schools and no Muslim student had been reported after investigation and due to the orders of Sultan the controlling will continue.” And again, the Governor of Ankara, Abidin, had reported on November 8, 1893 (21.tesrin-i evvel.1309) in a coded telegram:37 “No Muslim student was a student in the Armenian school in town and the vicinity and application of the

34 BOA. Y.PRK.TKM. 30/50.
35 Somel, a.g.m, s.395.
36 BOA. Y.MTV. 87/53.
37 BOA. Y.MTV. 86/99.

orders to be continued.” These are good examples on the continuation of governmental control (See Documents 3, 4).

The Education Ministry, in facing with the increasing number of the Armenian schools and trying to take them under State control, sent a note to the Armenian Patriarchy on November 9,1897 (13.cemaziyelevvel. 1315) expressing that in Istanbul and in the outer provinces the Armenian schools which had no permission to open should apply and get permission within 3 months, and the schools which wouldn’t apply for permission would be closed38. In the note, it was also expressed that the Greeks, Bulgarians, Catholics, Jews and the others who were living in the Ottoman State had obtained permission for their schools. At the end of 19th century, in 56 schools which belonged to the Greek Community, there were a total of 7,662 students and the Jewish community had 1,170 students in 9 schools39. All those schools were licensed. The Armenian schools didn’t apply for permission and in the result; those schools were closed due to not applying for the licence (See Doc. 5). One of the provinces was Aydin which faced problems in obtaining license.

The Armenian schools were 25 in number, but one was a primary school and the remaining were secondary schools (See Table-2).

Table-2 Armenian Schools By Counties In Aydin Province40 At The End Of The 19th Century

County Number Of Schools Number Of Students Opening Date Permission Date

Izmir 4 715 1300,1302, 1306,1313 11 April 1311/ 23 April 1895
Kuşadası 2 20 Unknown 1 Aug 1310/ 13 Aug 1894
Menemen 1 13 1296 1 Aug 1310/ 13 Aug 1894
Bergama 2 96 Unknown 7 Sept 1310/ 19 Sept 1894
Ödemiş 1 185 1248 No Permission Date
Bayındır 1 26 Unknown No permission date
Manisa 4 364 1247,1291, Unknown 1 Aug 1310/ 13 Aug 1894
Kasaba 2 132 1256,1307 No Permission Date
Akhisar 2 142 1293,1307 No Permission Date
Kırkağaç 2 218 1286,1290 No Permission Date
Aydın 1 22 1292 No Permission Date
Söke 1 22 Unknown No Permission Date

38 BOA. A.MKT.MHM. 701/27.
39 Salnâme-i Nezâret-i Maarif-i Umûmiye (Kısaca: SNMU), H.1316/ M.1898-1899, s.926-933.
40 SNMU, H.1316/ M.1898-1899, s.926-933

County Number Of Schools Number Of Students Opening Date Permission Date
Nazilli 1 30 1302 No Permission Date
Denizli 1 85 1301 No Permission Date
Total 25 2,065 No Permission Date

If this table is read carefully, the Ottoman State cannot be found to be unfair on inviting the Armenian schools to obtain licenses. From the Annual Education Records (Maarif Salnamesi) in H.1316/ M.1898-1899, it is seen that in Aydin Province, there was a total of 25 schools, 13 of them with a license and 12 without. This situation shows that the note, requesting them to apply in 3 months for permission, which had been sent from the Education Ministry, was not considered by the Armenian Patriarchy and that request had not been fulfilled. The Ottoman State never wished the Armenian families to send their children to the foreigners’ schools. The Archbishop of the Armenians shared these feelings, but the Armenian families who were poor and in need of support insisted on sending their children to the foreigners’ schools. If they were empowered economically they wouldn’t need to send their children to those schools.

Likewise, on March 23, 1893 (5 Ramazan.1310) in Sivas Province in a sealed envelope given to the Governor, there was a document stating that if 3000 pennies were given monthly to the Armenian schools, the Armenian children wouldn’t have to be sent to the foreign schools41. In the same document it stated that at the foreign schools negative ideas against the State were taught, but the teachers weren’t requesting any payments and were also assisting poor children by giving those books, stationary, outerwear, and money. Therefore, the poor Armenians preferred to go to these schools, but if these were provided by others than they wouldn’t need to go to the foreign school. The governor of Sivas informed the fact to the Prime Minister in April 11, 1893 (24.Ramazan. 1310) (See Doc.6)

41 BOA.Y.MTV. 76/25.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, the Armenians had started rebellions all over the country. The Ottoman State had increased the administrative pressure on the churches and schools, knowing they were an influence in the uprisings. The Prime Ministry, in 1869, 1881, 1908 and 1913 released regulations and orders on controlling the non-Muslim schools. However, control of the Armenian schools wasn’t sufficient just by the orders and regulations. In 1915, when the “Private Schools Regulations” were released, some precautions were taken as follows:

1. Armenian History which was taught in the Armenian schools was prohibited and replaced by Ottoman History courses.
2. A book list of what would be taught in the Armenian schools was submitted to the Education Ministry and after inspection permission would be given.

3. The State required that Muslim students not attend Armenian schools, such as in Ankara and Aydin and in other big provinces, and if there were any, requested them to stop. The governors of the provinces were to control this.

4. The Education Ministry expressed that in Istanbul and the outer provinces the Armenian schools which had no permission to open should apply and take permission within 3 months and the schools which wouldn’t apply for permission would be closed.

5. The Ottoman State never wished the Armenian families to send their children to the foreigner schools. Although the Archbishop of the Armenians shared these feelings, the Armenian families who were poor and in need of support insisted on sending their children to the foreigners’ schools.

The object of those precautions wasn’t like what Russia did by closing the schools. On the contrary, they were done to protect the innocent students of these schools from negative and false information, to save them from the powers which carried hostile feelings against the State, and finally to maintain order in the educational program.


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