Kayseri Elementary Schools in the Period of Abdulhamid II (1876-1908)
Erciyes Üniversitesi, Eğitim Fakültesi, Türkçe ve Sosyal Bilimler Eğitimi Bölümü, Kayseri/TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Kayseri, elementary, school, Ottoman Empire, Abdulhamid II, student, education-instruction.
One of the most significant areas of reformation in the last century of the Ottoman Empire was education. Education at the elementary school level used to be provided through schools known as Sıbyan Mektebi (Children’s Schools) or Mahalle Mektebi (Neighborhood Schools) for centuries. In the second half of the 19th century, these schools were subjected to criticism regarding the quality of the education they provided, especially their failure to have students learn to read and write within a reasonable time.
Reforms in the field of education started in the period of Mahmud II and continued in the periods of Abdulmejid and Abdulaziz. In these periods, although significant steps were taken on other levels of education, the same extent of change was not seen at the level of elementary schools.
After the enactment of the Maarif-i Umumiye Nizamnamesi (Public Education Charter) dated 1 October 1869, pilot elementary schools providing Western-style education started to be established. The number of these schools, which would be then distinguished from the schools known as Sıbyan Mektebi with the name iptidai (primary), increased rapidly in the period of Abdulhamid II.
The first İptidai Mektep (elementary school) in Kayseri was opened in 1893, and their numbers increased in time. As opposed to the case in schools named Sıbyan Mektebi, the lessons were being taught based on the curriculum determined by the Maarif Nezareti (Ministry of Education). This study presents information on the establishment of these elementary schools in the city of Kayseri, education-instruction activities (classes, examinations, success-failure, etc.) at four male and two female elementary schools based on the relatively rich contents of archive records and accounts of their teachers, as well as their students (numbers, ages, etc.). A significant part of this information was collected by the examination of the academic records of students enrolled in these six schools.
This study provides information on not only Kayseri elementary schools but also the general characteristics of elementary-level education in the Ottoman Empire, which had borders covering a large area. The study was prepared using archive documents, memoirs of some students who had received education at these elementary schools, and other original works.