Modernization of Ottoman Public Education And the Role of Darulmuallimin

Abdullah Sak, May 28, 2018

Historically it’s not appropriate to periodise Ottoman history between progress-stagnation and decline. Historians have problematized the idea of decline in regards to the Ottoman state. Before we speak about decline or stagnation, we need to explore the economic, military and political state of the Ottoman caliphate. The late Ottoman period can also be wieved as being in a state of equilibrium which does not simply being static, rather there is a contestation of power at various leves of society. The Ottomans  did not openly accept the superiority of their European counterparts with regard to economy, science, administration and education until the 18th century. Indeed, when the Ottoman state was faced with the heavy burden of wars and resulting failures against European armies in the 18th century, they deliberated and commissioned reports to investigate possible solutions that could be brought to repair their mistakes.

This thesis will discuss problems relating to the Ottoman renaissance project. In particular it will focus on educational reform which aimed to regain the competitive strength of the state. In this paper, I am going to examine the Darulmuallimin schools, whereby teacher were trained to impart the proposed reforms of the Ottoman state. At the time of its inception, it was considered vital for the salvation of the Ottoman educational system as the state felt itself lagging behind its European rivals. Moreover, I will look at the Darulmuallimin’s struggle against the hegemony of the Medrase system and its dogmatic educational system.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Sultan Mahmud II and his bureaucratcs wanted to embark on an ambitios reform programme. The old ways of running the state were seen as defective. Three principal areas were seen as needing reform or were abolished partially. The old religious authorities and law makers (Ilmiyye), the bureaucratic class (Kalemiyye) and the military class (Seyfiyye), the pillars of power that had governed the Ottoman state for several hundred years were erased, as was the case for the Janissaries, or they saw their powers severely curtailed in the case of Ilmiyye and Kalemiyye classes.

Such initiatives by the Ottoman state which considered the need for development and innovation began in the 18th century with modernization of the educational system. The main focus was on recovering the strength of the state which it was a believe had degraded, in particular, in the military when compared to the innovations and the rising power of the West. As a result of this, educational reforms were employed firstly in engineering institutions related with the imperial army and its military schools like the naval academy of the state. However, the main aim was not to create a new system but rather to imitate Western institutions in order to achieve their standarts.

To understand this change and see the educational bases of it, we should go back to the time of Mahmud II who significantly shaped the traditional institutions of the Ottoman state; eradicating the Janissary troops and classical army and its supporters (mostly the old ulema), transforming the old ulema class and creating aydin class, renewing the classical palace and land system, building the basis for Ottoman public educational renaissance. The change wrought on the old institutions was carried out in parallel to the creation of new institutions, however, many of the old institutions continued all be it in a reformed version. The paradoxical existence of traditional schools and new schools resulted in new generations of students in conflict with each other based on their ideological differences and distinctive perspectives that they had gained from their schools.

Dualism among the Ottoman intellectuals, their unbalanced characteristics which could neither belong to East nor West and the 19th centuries’ political turmoil created a chaotic era for the Ottoman state and along with it its experiment on education.[1]

The modernisation period of Ottoman public education did not only depend on the Padişahs’ executive commands,but also they were formed in consultation with a wide array of intellectual and bureaucrats. Sadık Rıfat Paşa was one of the first men who emphasized the role of education on modernisation and at the time he was one of the main instigators of the Tanzimat platform. In describing the strength that was driving European progress, he stated: They (Europeans) give importance to the education more than anything and it is impossible to accept a group of people as a nation without they could read in their language.[2] There were attempts to regulate the public educational system at the beginning of the 19th century and rüşdiyes (secondary schools) were the first to be introduced. The problem was that the state couldn’t constitute a standardised system to ensure enough teachers for the newly established schools. Under the supervision of Tanzimat aydins, Darulmuallimins (teacher’s training schools) opened in 1848. The first Darulmuallimins were going to raise the teachers whom rüşdiyes needed most. It was followed by the opening of Darulmuallimat for training female teachers in 1858, and Darulmuallimin-i sıbyan in 1868 (primary school teacher training program).[3] As the modernisation of the public educational system commenced, there were also competitors to these schools such as the traditional medrase and ulema.



Ex-Darulmuallimin as the Medrase versus Modern Darulmuallimin:

Medrase, as an Arabic word, coming from the verb studying and it means; the place where studying takes place. medrase, as an institution, came with the Anatolian Seljuks and Beyliks to the Western Anatolia and transferred to Europe through the Ottomans. For centuries, medrase was the main educational facility of Islamic civilization including the Ottoman state. Primary school programs and for example Darulhadis (Islamic master program after the medrase) were found in accordance with the medrase institution.

The main focus of the medrases was to prepare students for the hereafter rather than the world and it contained a mix structure of religious education together with maths, philosophy, astronomy, literature, various arts and subjects. So, there was no obvious differentiation of teaching Islamic knowledge and all other types of sciences under the medrase. To be professional at a specific subject, for instance medicine, a had to acquire Islamic education for a long period of time, then after he selects a program by which he could acquire experience as a doctor. There was no obvious class system in the Medrase but classes were made according to specific books which are lectured by a scholar, each class was based on a book that a student reads and memorises it.[4] That means there was neither an order in terms of gradual progress of the students nor a designed curriculum for the student. When the specific books were taken away, the class (circle) and the subject had come to an end.

In the reign of Fatih the Conqueror, medrase was the most capable institution which could enlighten people both on religious and scientific matters. Fatih gathered important scholars around the world and allowed them to debate in front of students and he personally joined these debates, assisted the progress of critical thinking and cultural exchange in the Ottoman realm. He ordered the collection of famous Greek, Latin books with the Arabic and Persian ones in the libraries to be studied and red in the medrase circles. Suleiman the Magnificent followed his grandfather’s legacy, continued to invent on the educational progress and opened new medrases with master programs (Darülhadis and upper medicine program) near to the Süleymaniye Mosque. By the end of the 16th century, certain scientific books were removed from the Medrase lists, because some members of the ulema thought that medrase’s main existential purpose is giving religious education. Kadı Zades (a famous family in the Ottoman history mostly consisting of Islamic scholars) were good examples of reactionary ulema groups that resisted against the teaching of mathematics, philosophy and sciences related with the nature in the medrase curriculum.[5]

Takiyuddin, whom is the founder of one of the greatest rasathanes of the contemporary world, set up the most advanced observatory in İstanbul with the Sultan III Murad’s contribution of 40,000 gold pieces. Later Kadı Zade Ahmet Şemseddin (the main religious authority in the Empire) opposed his work and accused him by practicing magic in the observatory. It is later revealed that Takiyuddin wasn’t a follower (disciple) of Kadı Zades (didn’t obey their rules) and that’s why he was accused of engaging with stars and elves on the space. Rasathane was demolished with a cannon bombardment by the navy because of the intervention of the ulema as Kadı Zades. At the end, the progress in astronomy stagnated for centuries in the Ottoman state.[6]

When Europe was experiencing the dark ages and the scientists were suppressed under the Catholic church, the situation was reversed in the Ottoman lands and the Middle East. But when we come to the 17th century, a new form of scholasticism emerged in the medrases which doesn’t really differentiate from the format of old European scholasticism. Muallim Cevdet, one of the graduates of the medrase system and a prominent member of aydin class, states on the scholasticism of medrase and its problems in these three main features:

*Following doubtlessly one of the Western or Eastern scientific book, a scholar or a sect,

*Not to criticize or renew the previous work according to the needs of society, time and cultural dynamism

*Sticking on the books to acquire knowledge rather than applying experiment on nature.[7]

The second half of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th centuries were the lost years of the Ottoman educational system due to the arrogance of Muderrises and the Ulema class. The thinking of Aristo and Oklides tradition was resurrected in the medrases while Europe managed to get rid of scholastic reactionism. At the end of the 17th and 18th centuries, there were discussions to replace astronomy and math lessons on the curriculum but a consensus could not be reached by the ulema. The general system of medrase was so much depending on the personal decisions of ulema whom can cancel or re-enact any book on the curriculum. Cancelation of any book on the curriculum basically means the removal or replacement of the specific lessons due to the medrase format. For centuries, like in the example of Kadı Zade ulema family, there were people opposed the existence of engineering, astronomy, philosophy and natural science lessons in the medrases. This comes from the systematic quandary of the medrase system, because it doesn’t have the capability of making arrangements for the protection of books, but on the other way the system could be manipulated by individuals.

If we look into the other problems of the Medrase education: the language that lessons were given was another serious obstacle for the students’ success and understanding. Even though, the common spoken language was Turkish in the palace, bureaucracy and society, in the medrase the books were read in Arabic language. The preparation classes of teaching Arabic consisted of memorization of Arabic grammar rules and syntax, together with the writing calligraphy of Arabic letters. When students successfully learn! Arabic, they start to memorize passages and recite and transfer them to the pages to pass the exams. At the end of this education, taking almost 13 years, students mostly couldn’t speech, speak or write in Arabic.[8] The basic education, before the medrase, given in the Sıbyan Mektebi (children school) or in other name, Mahalle Mektebi (neighbourhood school) took place between the ages of 6 to 10 for children. The language problems occurred in these primary schools because the students were taught firstly how to read in Arabic script. When students proceeded to read the Quran, they begin to memorise and recite it then later they take some calligraphy lessons. At this level, students don’t even understand what they read and write. The general manner of Ottoman traditional education system was for imitating and memorizing ancient texts.[9] From the beginning of their education, children could not learn how to read and use their mother language which in turn did not allow them to produce ideas and allow for critical thinking, instead they would repeat and reproduce documents.

In terms of effectiveness of enrolling children and especially poor people into the system, these children schools and medrases were the places that tutelage feasibility could be earned. Fatih and Bayezid specifically stated the enrolment of orphans in these schools and hereby a charity culture was embodied by the education system. The characteristic of charity-based education was formerly accelerated the foundation continuums of these schools but later inhibited their improvement and centralization possibility by the state. The impunity of medrase and sibyan mektebi as parts of the charity complex destroyed the potentials of young talents for centuries in the empire because of the main problems that we discussed above.

Head of the National Education İhsan Sungu states that pedagogically perusing the issue of children’s first year on education commencing by reading and memorizing the Quran was a heavy burden that a child could not bear. Even in the countries that Arabic is spoken as mother language it was not found appropriate opening year’s curriculum with studying Quran.[10] Even though certain aydins and bureaucrats emphasized the problem, the overall revulsion of ulema was refrained and the system continued until the end of sibyan schools.

The general order of a primary school to the end of medrase lessons were as stated below:

*Learning how to write and read Arabic alphabet, getting familiarity with the Quran, memorization of the some short parts of Quran, Islamic jurisprudence basics then to the medrase.

-In the primary medrase:

*Arabic writing, Quranic lessons, basic mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and basic ilmihal

– Middle education was in the inner and outer medrases and these medrases cover the lessons below:

*Arabic grammer, writing, engineering basics, calculus and mathematic, debate, logic and reading of Şerhi Fenari book, Metali Şerhi (book) and from remark (kalam) Haşiyei Tecrid book

-In the high school level, Tetimme medrase starts:

*Logic, Şerh-i Miftah (Explanation of Key) and Muhtasar Meani, Mutavvel, Method of Islamic jurisprudence, and they were followed by 20 approximate traditional books’s reading and memorization.

-In the licence, Sahn-i Seman and Sahn-i Süleymaniye contained the lessons below:

*Mecidicine, mathematics, physics, remark (Kalam), astronomy, hadith method lessons were covered.[11]

In the early times of the medrases, the lessons were given by more qualified people and medrases raised the famous Ottoman intellectuals, doctors, architectures, Islamic scholars and engineers. Ali Suavi, a famous aydin of Tanzimat, finished the classical medrase with a high degree but enucleated that, even though I took all the lessons in Arabic, I am not able to give a speech in Arabic and write a literature text. All these 13 years could at least benefit my Arabic but it wasn’t. Not just me but my all colleagues were in the same position.[12]

In the time of Abdulhamid II, medrases were forgotten consciously by the Sultan, they were not restored and regenerated. So, the beginning of the end for Medrase started in the time of Abdulhamid II. Reformation of medrase plan couldn’t be made and when the republic is found medrases were closed by Mustafa Kemal. Medrase couldn’t have the courage to criticize itself for centuries and this led medrase’s collapse in the end.

The Century of Education:

We already covered the curriculums of the medrase – sıbyan mektebi and their systematic problems with regard to education. In addition to the methodologic issues, there was another puzzle which is the understanding of education as a luxury among Ottoman society. Children were considered by their parents as additional work force in the fields and workshops. This was one of the reasons that few children were enrolled into the schools. In remote places and villages the lack of educational facilities could be counted as the second main problem.

With the edict of 1824, we can see Mahmud II enthusiasm on restoring the order and modernising the education. He submitted an imperial order of compulsory education for every child in the state and warned the parents to let their children into the schools. He specifically labelled the ones who don’t send their children as sinful people. He further warned the irresponsible parents on the topic that they will be judged in the Day of Judgement to convince parents for his campaign with the Islamic understanding.[13] The fundamental principles of education were first discussed in 1838 by the political power under a bill (draft) issued by the Meclis-i Umur-u Nafia (Counsil of Public Works). The bill describes education as a factor leading humans to higher levels of welfare, helping them to reach a content life and contributing to the development of the Ottoman state. This turning point in education was followed by the foundation of Mekatib-i Rusdiye Nezareti (Ministry of Secondary Schools) under the Evkafı Humayun Nezareti (Organization responsible for the Admisnistration of Foundations) on March 11, 1839, and Esad Efendi was appointed to the ministery.[14] Even though in the Tanzimat edict, there was no room or emphasis on education, in the Royal Edict of Reform (1845 Hatt-i Humayunu) educational reforms started to be discussed by a group consisting of qualified seven members. The members, having a good grasp of judicial, military and administrative knowledge, started the same year to investigate available schools and provide the opportunities to open the new ones under a decree by Sublime Port (Bab-i Ali).[15]

Indeed, from 1727 onwards, the Ottoman state turned its face to the West to implement the innovations but no one could have the courage to interfere to the medrase system. The only way to make absolute variance was turning medrases to modern schools or modernize them but none of the sultans or bureaucrats could. Even in the new schools, the spirit of medrase was recreated by setting similar forms of Arabic and Islamic lessons. Until 1846, in the Mektebi Maarif-i Adliye (Law Department) and Mektebi Ulumu Edebiyye (Literature Department) still giving classical Arabic lessons would be counted as a renovation. When we come to the 1848, it is clearly realized that Darulmuallimin should be found to train the teachers for the rüşdiye mektebs which could not continue to progress because of the attitudes and understanding of old school teachers. With the establishment of rüşdiyes and their newly designed curriculums, a dualist educational problem occurred. It should be noted here that not only the state could not foresee the problem of dualism among modern and old schools but because of the refrain from ulema and muderrises (medrase teachers), the state stayed silent.

The first darulmuallimin was found in 1848 and it could not last until the times of Abdülaziz. In 1858 darulmuallimin-i sıbyan (teacher training program for primary schools) was found. Following darulmuallimin-i sıbyan, ibtidaiye’s (primary schools) and rüşdiye’s curriculums were regulated and for both of these divisions’ darulmuallimins were established. However, we will see the first remarkable transition in the newly founding darulmuallimins’ curricula as the revoking of Arabic lessons and constituting French lessons instead. The curriculum started to deploy formation and pedagogy lessons together with the Islamic value lessons in darulmuallimin. According to Selim Deringil’s statement, in the essence of all those curriculum designes, the main idea and purpose was to integrate all citizens belonging to different religions and races of the state under the ideal of Ottomanism and to guaranty Ottoman unity by training them together.[16]

The efforts of Mahmud II didn’t find the necessary responses because of the lacking background preparations for the educational alterations and a deficiency in qualified teachers. Even in Istanbul, there wasn’t enough infrastructure for comprehensive educational campaigns. When the new system wanted to be built, and darulmuallimin-i rüşdiye opened, the teachers for these modern schools were not sufficient academically. The rest of the professors were taken from medrases and this led to the failure of expected renovation in the education.

In the Tanzimat edict, there was no emphasis on education, however, in islahat 1856, it is issued that every school will open to everyone. The sects could open their private schools and all of the teachers and the school programs will be depending on and united under maarif nezareti (ministry of education). The decisions took time to be implemented and on February 22, 1867, the French government sent a diplomatic note to the Ottoman State to carry out the reforms guaranteed under the Imperial Edict of Reorganization and Royal Edict of Reformation (Tanzimat and Islahat Royal Decree). Jean Victor Duruy, in the name of French government, issued the necessary steps as: the re-organization of maintenance and encouragement of Christian schools, establishment of libraries for the benefit of every citizen, approval of coeducation and opening new schools.[17] France, indeed, was expecting the Ottoman education system to be integrated with all citizens and to turn into a non-formal structure. After two years, based on the project of Duruy, Maarif-i Umumiye Nizamnamesi (Regulation for Public Education) was enacted in 1869 and it brought the organized, detailed program and structural changes in education. Regulation of public education also defined the basic rules of the education system such as the age limitations of children, whom is going to enrol into the schools, the curricula for the new opening programs like (ibtidai and rüşdiye) and the teachers’ responsibilities. The same year with the effect of maarifi umumiye nizamnamesi, Great Darulmuallimin (teacher training schools for master programs) opened. The program of great darulmuallimin consisted of science and literature departments. Even though the opening of great darulmuallimin was designated in 1846, by the decision of Meclis-i Vala (parliament of courthouse), it was put into practice 23 years later.[18]


In the process of modernizing the education system in the last era of Ottoman state, it was found crucial to train teachers whom will spread the new ideology of the state. Since the time of Mahmud II, it was thought to build the Darulmuallimins to train new teachers but the foundation of Darulmuallimins brought to fruition on 16 March 1848 in the Fatih disctrict of Istanbul. The design of first Darulmuallimin was imitated by the example of French teacher schools. Ahmed Cevdet Efendi was appointed as the head of the first school. He prepared a document that explains the opening reason of the Darulmuallimin and its mission:

*To enhance the quality of the school, the student number which is going to enrol each year decreased to 20 from 30. The remaining 20 will be named as the essential students.

*Each student will be chosen according to the exams and they should have first give the Arabic proficiency to prove that they can understand Arabic and translate it to Turkish.

*Another primary condition before starting to the schools was stated to have a nice character and personality.

*The duration of school was specified as three years.[19]

-The first curricula and the charter of the Darulmuallimin was stated as below:

*Teaching techniques and the way of education, Persian, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Geography, Planimetry. (There was no place for Arabic lessons because the primary proficiency exam is being carried to see the Arabic qualification of the students.)

*There is going to be a good amount of scholarship given to the students that they can focus on their lessons.

*Supervision of the lessons and exams will be taken seriously and unsuccessful students will be expelled from the school.

*If a student is hardworking and successful enough, he could finish the school before the three years.

*In the appointment of important schools and cities, students will be ranked according to their final notes.

*When a student graduates from the Darulmuallimin, he should go to the school which is chosen for him and if he doesn’t, his diploma will be taken and he will never gain any job opportunity in the schools.

*To protect the reputation and the honour of students, the old system of sending students to the provinces for preaching to community and expecting revenue is banned (it is stated as begging for money and food). Ahmet Cevdet Efendi claimed that the old system (Cer) is the reason of students’ fail and forgetting their lessons as well as their personality disorder.[20]

We can the places which Darulmuallimins were found below:[21]

Name of the School 1899-1900 1900-1901 1903-1094
Darülmuallimin of Edirne 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Adana 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Ankara 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of İzmir 2 2 5
Darülmuallimin of Bursa 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Diyarbakır 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Salonica 7 6 6
Darülmuallimin of Sivas 1 2 2
Darülmuallimin of Trabzon 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Kastamonu 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Konya 1 1 2
Darülmuallimin of Manastiri 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of Loannina 1 1 1
Darülmuallimin of San’a 4 4
Darülmuallimin of Ta’iz 3
Darülmuallimin of Baghdat 4
Darülmuallimin of Kosovo 3
Darülmuallimin of Debar 1
Darülmuallimin of Triplolitania 1
Darülmuallimin of Mosul 2




Darulmuallim-i Sıbyan and Darulmuallim-i Ibtidai:

The main issue to change the system was laid in the foundations of primary schools which is called the sıbyan mektebs. To influence children between six to ten ages meant that the transformation of the very dynamics of Ottoman society and public education. When the ibtidai (beginning) primary schools started to be opened, the state didn’t close the sıbyan mektebs but both of them continued to exist together. The sibyan mektebs were under the umbrella of evkaf nezareti that they were counted as part of the charity foundations and this makes them almost untouchable for a long time.[22] And in the 1868, the first teacher school for modern primary schools were started. In 1875, Darulmuallim-i sıbyans could be found in tens of provinces within the state.

The program of Darulmuallim-i Sıbyan in 1868:

*Islamic knowledge, the science of channel and reading, calculus, history, geography, dictation, calligraphy, Turkish grammar, new spelling methods.

From that period onward, together with the Quran lessons, basic calculus, morals and basic geography lessons were added. After this achievement, the ministry of education wanted to restore the system of sibyan mektebs and educate their teachers. In addition to Darulmuallim-i sıbyan, Sıbyan-i Muallim Mekteb-i (primary school teacher training school) was found. To teach the basic calculus and Turkish reading-writing skills seen as primary needs in these schools as well.

After the publication of Maarif-i Umumiye Nizamnamesi, the edict of Abdülaziz was resulted the foundation of Darulmuallim-i Sıbyan in Istanbul and 50 students were registered with the 30 piastre montly scholarship.[23] The purpose of opening darulmuallim-i sibyan mektebi was issued that necessity of regulating primary education in sıbyan mektebs is more important than inventing any other darulmuallimin.[24]

The entrance exam of the darulmuallim-i sıbyan mektebi; Arabic grammar, logic, Persian and calculus were the lessons each candidate students should be successful. At the end of the Abdülaziz’s reign; Konya, Crete and Bosnia were the places that darulmullim-i sıbyans were opened. By 1876, the numbers of newly established darulmuallim-i sibyans were 17.

Büyük Darulmuallimin (Upper Darulmuallimin):

In the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, the note that French government gave to the Ottoman state in 1867 was a driving force in terms of educational regulations. The emphasis on training teachers and general attention on education could be one of the reasons that all the educational facilities united under the nizamname. In the charter’s clause 51, Darulmuallimin, Darulmuallimat and Darulfunun were specified as master programs. In clause 52, the opening of Great Darulmuallimin which contains the secondary and high school teacher departments under its umbrella will be divided into literature and science faculties. For the rüşdiye, it was going to be segregated between Muslims’ and non-Muslims’ schools’ posts.

In clauses 54, 55 and 56 we have the curriculums of  rüşdiye and idadi schools:

*For the rüşdiye schools;

-Literature Branch; Turkish, rhetoric and prose, Arabic, Persian, history of the world.

-Science Branch; tracery of borders, calculus, record keeping method, engineering, survey and  algebra.

*For the idadis;

– Literature Branch; translation from Arabic and Persian, Turkish, poetry, French, Ottoman codes, science of Western economy.

– Science Branch; biology, drawing for engineering, algebra, physics, chemistry, painting.

*For the Sultanis;

– Literature Branch; perfection on Turkish, poetry, perfection on Persian and Arabic, declamation and rhetoric, translation from Turkish to French and from French to Turkish, international law of societies.

– Literature Branch; trigonometry, algebra for engineering, conic section, classical mechanic, astronomy, applied chemistry on agriculture and industry, perfection on science of nature, geoscience, restriction of lands, painting.

In clause 60 it is written that for the students of darulmuallim-i rüşdiye branch 80 piastre, for the students of idadi branch 80 piastre and for the students of sultani branch 120 piastre pocket money will be bestowed.[25]

-Certain essential articles of Darulmuallimin and Darulmuallimat according to the Ottoman Educational Annuals:

*The education in Darulmuallimin and Darulmuallimat is free of charge. Darulmuallimins are boarding schools and they could accept externs as well. The clothes of the students whom are dwelling in the dorms will be compensated by the school.

*If students are knowledgeable enough on Islamic studies, they should complete the lessons that are necessary for their formation of being teacher.

*To the acceptance of Darulmuallimin and Darulmuallimat, students should be citizens of the empire and have nothing defective on their body and health.

*If the foreign students within the empire could manage to gather necessary documents of the Darulmuallimin and Darulmuallimat and carry the required qualifications, they can apply for the convenient sections and classes of the schools with the permit of the minister of national education (Maarif-i Umumiye Nazırı).

*Darulmuallimin and Darulmuallimat administrations have the right to warn the students for the sake of protecting order but after the first instigation the punishments stated below will be carried out:


-Registration of the default


-Temporary removal of the student

-Permanent removal of the student

*The students of Darulmuallimin and Darulmualliat cannot get into the politics and without the permission of maarif nezareti they cannot create an association and join in a guild or a sect.[26]

*If a student completes one of the Darulmuallimins’ program, the student might continue to move on the upper Darulmuallimin or can take office in the schools that he/she graduated on.[27]

In the centuries of modernization, the state, because of the immediate need of regulating the army and collapse of administrative system mostly focused on training boys. Thus, with the separation of genders in the schools resulted in the opening of women schools later on. However, after the foundation of girls’ secondary school, the need for women teachers were realized by the state. The opening of the first school took time and in 1870 the first Darulmuallimat (Women teacher training school) was found. According to the 1870’s directory; to train teachers for the Kız Mekatibi Sıbyaniye (Girls’ Primary schools) and rüşdiye, darulmuallimat was going to be established. The first curriculum of the school is:

– Ottoman language grammar, teaching methods, compulsory elective language lesson, morals, accounting, Ottoman history, geography, information on public works, music and needlecraft.[28]

1910-1911 academic year was the last time of Darulmuallimat and during the years of 1873 and 1911 the school produced 737 graduates.[29]

Abdülhamid and Darulmuallimin:

Sultan Abdülhamid II and his policy for the advancement of public education impressed dramatically the spread of darulmuallimins. After Istanbul, darulmuallimins started to be found in all corners of the Ottoman state. In Sultan Abdulhamid’s time, darulmuallimin-i rüşdi, sıbyan and aliyye diverged and each of them specifically focused on its occupations. The opening of darulmallim-i sıbyans in rural parts of the state encounters with the Abdulhamid’s time again. In (1899-1900) the program of darulmuallim-i sıbyan is in the list below:[30]


Name of the Lesson


First Year


Second Year


Quran, Tajweed and Islamic Law






Turkish Grammer and Spelling





Teaching Method
















Persian Grammer and Gulistan Story Book























Geography of Ottoman and General Geography






İslamic History












In Total






Certain rules of darulmuallimins in the time of Abdulhamid II are written as below:

* Darulmuallimin-i ibtidaiye, rüşdiye and aliyye will be consisting of two years education periods and they will be divided into three distinctive departments. All of them will be affiliated with ministry of education and their directors will come from the ministry.

* To be accepted for ibtidaiyye branch; a student should be less than 30 and more than 20 years old. The applicant should be able to give proficiency exam on Turkish grammar and pass the health control. Disabled students cannot be taken into the program.

* To enter the rüşdiye branch; candidate student should bring his testimonial from ibtidaiye branch or if he is not applying as a graduate from ibtidaiye branch, he should give the necessary exams.[31]

The program of darulmuallim-i rüşdi is stated below: [32]


The Name of the Lesson


First Year


Second Year


Turkish Gramer





Pedagogical Formation





Turkish Writing and Composition  



















































































Islamic Sciences





In Total





The curriculum of medrase, as the ordinary school and teacher training school of Ottoman state for centuries didn’t visibly change its structure. As being the main institution of education system, medrase didn’t have a rival facility until 19th century’s darulmuallimins and rüşdiyes.  However, the curriculums that we see above are the serious challenges against the understanding of medrase’s closed world view. The philosophy, physics, mathematic and astronomy lessons were combined with Islamic lessons that reflects the old medrase structure of Sultan Mehmed II’ Sahn-i Seman. The process of curriculum alterations could be described as the period of evolution for the 19th century. At this point, darulmuallimins became the bridge between secularization of education system from medrase to modern Turkey’s schools. The reign of Abdulhamid helped particularly the Turkification of the education system and central bureaucracy. He personally discussed the possible conversion of Ottoman alphabet to Latin in his memories.[33]

On the other hand, historians claimed various theories depending on the curricula variances of darulmuallimins and rüşdiyes of 19th century Ottoman state. According to Fortna, the geography lessons in the programs of sıbyan and rüşdiye schools are significant with the usage of specifically designed maps. These maps aimed to imbed into the students the idea of being a part of Ottoman state citizen and they are united inside the borders of the Ottoman country. The usage of colours on the map and the emphasis of borders were the points that the perspective of being Ottoman tried to be placed to the minds.[34]

According to Lewis, the man who is the pioneer of regulating and taking forward the educational system Said Pasha in the era of Abdulhamid II. The progress in the education was the leading reason of all the improvements of the time. The very success of the Hamidian era was the accelerating number of schools in the country. In this period, an increase of 7% was achieved in the schooling rate.[35] When Abdulhamid II come to the throne in 1876, the total number of schools for teacher’s training was 4 in addition to 18,490 primary schools, 253 secondary schools and 4 colleges. However, at the end of Abdulhamid’s reign, the number of schools across the country increased by 32 teacher training schools, 5,000 primary schools, 619 secondary schools and 109 high schools.[36] On the other hand, Zurcher claims that the reason of opening large number of schools is the need of educating and providing bureaucrats for the state which did not have enough of them.[37]In the realm of Istanbul, 18 new girls’ schools opened which shows the caring of women education by Abdulhamid.[38]The graduates of darulmuallimat were appointed to the newly opened schools compulsorily that later gave a birth of the intellectual women thinkers of second constitution and Republican eras.

Somel claims that the general aim of Abdulhamid’s education policy was the creation of an educated middle class which is at peace with the regime and the official ideology of the Sultan. Through training and undergoing a political indoctrination process at the schools, people would turn to be faithful, loyal to the palace and become modern as well.[39]The spread of modern education facilities in the rural areas led the emergence of a new educated class that brought an alternative way of thinking when it compared to the aydins of Istanbul. The ideological conflict between the centre and rural could be seen obviously with the results of new schools.[40]


Modernization of public education system in the Ottoman state involves almost a century long period and numerous attempts we can observe parapraxis. Cevdet Pasha, a notable writer and educator of the contemporary time, explains these unsuccessful initiatives with two main reasons: Trying to place the new system without preparing the infrastructure and appointing ignorant and incapable men to the key locations of these enterprises.[41]At this point, questioning darulmuallimin, whether it was a successful try or not in terms of on renewing educational system, we cannot get an appropriate answer without seeing the results (as graduates’ work and raised generations) and wider effects of education in historical continuation. However, darulmuallimin was the beginning of a broad social transformation that could show its strength in the very foundations of the nation state of Turkey and others in the Balkans and the Middle East. Education is a long, painful and inconvenient process that shaped socities in ways that cannot be easily observed.  To give an answer, darulmuallimin is one of the most successful trials of Ottoman strategists whether they are sultans or bureaucrats. Darulmuallimin, it’s teachers and their students brought a new understanding that could adapt the Ottoman society with the modern world. Because the challenging system gave a birth to those challenging people who won over the traditional obsession of education and could find a way from the labyrinth of modernization process. So, the trial of educational modernization and Darulmuallimin was one of the successful results of raising the aydıns and leaders of mainly Turkey’s but also foundation of ex-Ottoman nation states’. So Darulmuallimin turned into a very characteristically representative of revolutionary journey of today’s modern education in the Middle East, Anatolia and Balkans.

Abdullah SAK




-1316 Salname-i Maarif-i Umumiye

-1317 Salname-i Maarif-i Umumiye

Abdülhamid, II. (Ali Vehbi Bey). 1999. Siyasi Hatıratım. İstanbul: Dergah Yayınları.

Akyüz, Yahya. 2008. Türk Eğitim Tarihi, M.Ö. 1000 – M.S. 2008. Ankara: Pegem Academy Press.

Alkan, Mehmet Ö. 2004. “İmparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Modernleşme ve Ulusçuluk Sürecinde Eğitim” Osmanlı Geçmişi ve Bugünün Türkiye’si. Edited by Kemal H. Karpat. İstanbul: Bilgi University Press.

Bilim, Cahit Yalçın. 1984. Tanzimat Devrinde Türk Eğitiminde Çağdaşlaşma(1839-1876). Eskişehir: Anadolu University Press.

Cevat, Mahmut. n.d. Maarif Nezareti Tarhiçe-i Teşkilât ve İcraatı.

Deringil, Selim. 2002. İktidarın Sembolleri ve İdeoloji, II. Abdülhamid Dönemi (1876-1908). İstanbul: YKY Press.

Er, Hamit. 2001. Osmanlı Devleti’nde Çağdaşlaşma ve Eğitim. İstanbul: Rağbet Press.

Ergin, Osman Nuri. 1977. Türk Maarif Tarihi C. I-II-III. İstanbul: Eser Press.

—. 1977. Türk Maarif Tarihi Cilt 1-2. İstanbul: Eser Press.

—. 1977. Türk Maarif Tarihi Cilt 3-4. İstanbul: Eser Press.

Fortna, Benjamin C. 2005. Mekteb-i Hümayun: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nun Son Döneminde İslam, Devlet ve Eğitim. Translated by Pelin Siral. İstanbul: İletişim Press.

Gencer, Bedri. 2008 . İslam’da Modernleşme (1839-1939). Ankara : Lotus Press.

Haldun, İbn-i. n.d. Mukaddime. Edited by Pîrîzâde Mehmed Sâhib – Ahmed Cevdet Paşa.

İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin. 1992. Osmanlı Bilim ve Eğitim Anlayışı, 150. Yılında Tanzimat. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press.

—. 1992. Tanzimat Döneminde İstanbul’da Darülfünun Kurma Teşebbüsleri. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları.

İlikli, Yeliz. 2010. Darülmuallimin – Darülmuallimat. Ankara: Gazi University.

Kafadar, Özkan. 1997. Türk Eğitim Düşüncesinde Batılılaşma. Ankara: Vadi Press.

Karpat, Kemal. 2009. Turkish Education History. İstanbul: Timaş Press.

Kayaoğlu, Tacettin. 2001. Mahmut Cevat İbnü’ -Şeyh Nafi: Maârif-i Umûmiye Nezâreti Târihçe-i Teşkilât ve İcrââtı -XIX. Asır Osmanlı Maârif Tarihi. Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Press.

Koçer, Hasan Ali. 1991. Türkiye’de Modern Eğitimin Doğuşu ve Gelişimi. İstanbul: MEB press.

Kodaman, Bayram. 1988. Abdülhamid Devri Eğitim Sistemi. Ankara: 1988.

Lewis, Bernard. 2000. Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu. Translated by Metin Kıratlı. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press.

Nurdoğan, Arzu Meryem. 2005. Osmanlı Modernleşme Sürecinde İlköğretim (1869-1922). İstanbul: Unpublished Doctorate Thesis – Marmara University Social Sciences Institute.

Ortaylı, İlber. 2003. İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı. İstanbul: İletişim Press.

Özcan, Abdülkadir. 1992. Öğretmen Yetiştirme Meselesi, 150. Yılında Tanzimat. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press.

Öztürk, Cemil. 2014. Darülmuallimin. Ankara: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi.

—. n.d. İslam Ansiklopedisi. Vol. 8. Ankara: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Press.

Paşa, Ahmet Cevdet. 1976. Tarih-i Cevdet. Edited by Mümin Çevik Dündar Günday. İstanbul: Üçdal Press.

Sakaoğlu, Necdet. 2003. Osmanlı’dan Günümüze Eğitim Tarihi. İstanbul: İstanbul Bilgi University Press.

Sarıkaya, Yaşar. 1997. Medreseler ve Modernleşme. İstanbul: İz Press.

Sırma, İhsan Süreyya. 2000. Belgelerle II. Abdülhamid Dönemi. İstanbul: Beyan Press.

Somel, Selçuk Akşin. 2001. Modernization of Public Education in Ottoman Empire 1839-1908, İslâmization, Autocracy and Discipline. Brielle: Brielle Academic Publications.

Şentürk, Recep. 2008. Türk Düşüncesinin Sosyolojisi, Fıkıhtan Sosyal Bilimlere. İstanbul: Etkileşim Press.

Ülken, Hilmi Ziya. 2001. Türkiye’de Çağdaş Düşünce Tarihi. İstanbul: Ülken Press.

Zurcher, Eric Jan. 1993. Turkey: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris Press.



[1] Recep Şentürk, Türk Düşüncesinin Sosyolojisi. (İstanbul: Etkileşim Press, 2008)

[2] İlber Ortaylı, İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı. (İstanbul: İletişim Press, 2003), 95

[3] Cemil Öztürk, Darulmuallimin – İslam Ansiklopedisi. (Ankara:TDV), 551

[4] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[5] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[6] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[7] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[8] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[9] Ibid.

[10] Mukaddime and Ahmet cevdet çeiviris ibni haldun s.331

[11] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ahmet Cevdet Paşa, Tarih-i Cevdet. (İstanbul: Üçdal Press, 1976)

[14] Cahit Yalçın Bilim, Tanzimat Devrinde Türk Eğitiminde Çağdaşlaşma. (Eskişehir: Anadolu Uni. Press, 1984)

[15] Bernard Lewis, 2000. Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press.

[16] Selim Deringil, İktidarın Sembolleri ve İdeoloji. (İstanbul: YKY Press, 2002)

[17] Mehmet Ö. Alkan,“İmparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Modernleşme ve Ulusçuluk Sürecinde Eğitim”. (İstanbul: Bilgi University Press, 2004)

[18] Cahit Yalçın Bilim, Tanzimat Devrinde Türk Eğitiminde Çağdaşlaşma. (Eskişehir: Anadolu Uni. Press, 1984)

[19] Abdülkadir Özcan, Öğretmen Yetiştirme Meselesi. (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press, 1992)

[20] Ibid.

[21] Annual of Ministry of Education, 1317


[22] Abdülkadir Özcan, Öğretmen Yetiştirme Meselesi. (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press, 1992)

[23] Prime Ministry Ottoman Archive, MF. MKT, 5/179.

[24] Prime Ministry Ottoman Archive, MF. MKT, 3/179

[25] Abdülkadir Özcan, Öğretmen Yetiştirme Meselesi. (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press, 1992)

[26] Annual of Ministry of Education, 1317

[27] Prime Ministry Ottoman Archieve Y.MTV, 205/1

[28] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi Cilt 3-4. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[29] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türk Maarif Tarihi Cilt 3-4. (İstanbul: Eser Press, 1977)

[30] Annual of Ministry of Education, 1316

[31] Annual of Ministry of Education, 1317

[32] Annual of Ministry of Education H. 1317-M. 1899-1900.

[33] Abdülhamid II, Siyasi Hatıratım. (İstanbul: Dergah Press, 1999)

[34] Benjamin Fortna, Mekteb-i Hümayun: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nun Son Döneminde İslam, Devlet ve Eğitim. (İstanbul: İletişim Press, 2005)

[35] Bernard Lewis, Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu. (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Press, 2000)

[36] Mehmet Ö. Alkan, “İmparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Modernleşme ve Ulusçuluk Sürecinde Eğitim” (İstanbul: Bilgi University Press, 2004)

[37] Eric Jan Zurcher, Turkey: A Modern History. (London: I.B. Tauris Press, 1993)

[38] İhsan Süreyya Sırma, Belgelerle II. Abdülhamid Dönemi. (İstanbul: Beyan Press, 2000) 65-70.

[39] Selçuk Akşin Somel, Modernization of Public Education in Ottoman Empire 1839-1908, (Brielle: Brielle Academic Publications, 2001)

[40] Kemal Karpat, Turkish Education History. (İstanbul: Timaş Press, 2009)

[41] Yahya Akyüz, Türk Eğitim Tarihi. (Ankara: Pegem Academy Press, 2008)

About Author

Leave A Reply