Ottoman Educational Institutions during the Reform Period

The Imperial Tanzimat Rescript (Tanzimat Fermani) announced on 3 November 1839 provided state protection for basic rights and freedoms. Following this, programs of educational reform made the reorganization of secondary education a priority and the educational system was restructured.

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The Imperial Tanzimat Rescript (Tanzimat Fermani) announced on 3rd November 1839 provided state protection for basic rights and freedoms such as the right to life, property and honour, the right to just taxation, regulation of military service, fair trial and the right not to have one's property confiscated. These rights and freedoms were ensured to all Ottoman subjects, Muslim or non-Muslim. The purpose of the Tanzimat was not just to renovate the relationship between religion and the state, but also between property and the public and to ensure that the state was guided not by the principle of the public serving the state, but rather of the state serving the people.

In the nineteenth century the official edicts issued in the name of the Ottoman State and the statements of its administrators constitute important sources for understanding the direction of modern Ottoman education. One should not ignore the fact that this had a political aspect to it. The state had as its primary goal the training of a new group of civil servants for the newly formed bureaucracy. This task was assigned to the newly established schools, which were expected to replace the old madrasas as a source for civil servants. The functions of the new schools were not much different than those of the madrasas they were beginning to replace, which during the classical period had served to inculcate the public with official state policy.

Changes in the Ottoman educational system first began with the education of the military class. The reorganization of primary and secondary education did not receive the attention it required at that time. Following the proclamation of the Tanzimat, programs of educational reform made the reorganization of secondary education a priority and the educational system was restructured. The goal of secondary educational institutions established during this period was primarily to provide a kind of preparatory training to meet the needs of the existing bureaucracy and to produce knowledgeable civil servants. By contrast, the education provided at the military higher educational institutions such as the Engineering and Medical schools or the War Academy established during an earlier period, included both secondary and higher levels. That is why consideration was given to the idea of setting up secondary school programs to prepare students for all the higher schools in the empire. It was in this context that Muslims felt a need for secondary educational institutions, especially for the children of wealthy merchants, other than the madrasas, institutions like the private schools to which the non-Muslims were sending their children.

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