A Social Responsibility Project: The Reformatoires of the Danubian Province
Meral Bayrak Ferli̇baş
Keywords: Midhat Pasha, Reformatory (ıslah-hane), Nish, Ruse, Sofia, Costantza, Danubian Province, Industrial School
The first of the Ottoman reformatories, which was identified with the name "Midhat Pasha", was established in Nish. Abondoned and parentless children were the first to be accepted to these reformatories, but extremely poor kids staying with one of their parents were also accepted. Those children who were found guilty and sentenced to penalties, in accordance with the regulations of the government, were placed in a special part of the reformatory so as to serve their sentences. This institution, thus stated to have been recorded as "reformatory" in various socurces, is also accounted to have been named, upon inspiration by one of the Qur'anic verses, by Midhat Pasha. Following the opening of the first reformatory in Nish and the creation of the Danubian Province in the region, new reformatories were opened in Ruse and Sofia. And shortly afterwards, a separate reformatory for girls was set up in Ruse. To acquire professional skills for the children, for boys in particular, was the chief purpose in admission to reformatories. Boys were thought basic lessons by different teachers on the basis of their religion. Thus, they acquired the abilities of reading and writing on mother language, learned the basics of mathematics and recived a moral and religious education. As for girls, they were asked to learn Bulgarian and Turkish by their coreligionist teachers and French by a foreign female teacher. These institutions, in which, apart from these basic lessons, girls learned sewing and needlework and playing piano, aimed at acquiring a good training for little girls.The sources of income for the expenses of these reformatories, which were the products of the cooperation between state and society and became prestigious institutions in the course of time, were rents from public institutions' immovable goods, fees paid for the "ihzariye" certificates, gains from the export of the articles produced in reformatories and grants from statesman and common people. In this way these institutions managed to carry on their activities and succeded in training numerous craftsmen so as to sustain their lives and became influential in the spread of similar reformatories to 1stanbul and other Ottoman provinces.