Education in Turkey in the Early Republican Years According to the American Official Documents

Education in Turkey in the Early Republican Years According to the American Official Documents

Hikmet ÖKSÜZ , Ülkü KÖKSAL


Beginning from the end of the 18th century, the educational reforms in the Ottoman Empire laid the foundations for the early Republican Period in Turkey. The educational reforms, however, could not totally transform the educational system and the duality in education persisted because of several reasons such as the resistance of the old educational institutions to reforms and the continuous wars taking place in and around Turkey in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Following the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, radical changes were made in the Turkish educational system in order to synchronize the educational activities to modern standards. First, all educational institutions were unified under the Law of Uniform Education (Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu) and brought under the authority of the Ministry of National Education on March3, 1924. The purpose of the law was to end the duality of Western and traditional schools (mektep-medrese), to develop a national culture and to control the activities of the foreign-run schools. A nationwide literacy crusade was implemented throughout the country with the adoption of the new alphabet and the government run program supervised the activities by establishing the Schools of Nation (Millet Mektepleri). These schools’ primary target was to teach literacy and in time the schools served as the places that taught people useful everyday life practices. The People’s Halls (Halkevleri) were also built in almost every town for social and cultural development efforts introducing the Republican reforms to the people as well as educating people in history, literature, folklore and fine arts. With the University Reform (Üniversite Reformu) İstanbul University was founded on January 1, 1933 providing the bases for the higher education structure. The Teachers Schools (Öğretmen Okulları) were reorganized in quantity and quality, and the Village Institutes (Köy Enstitüleri) were established in order to raise modern individuals and the cultural and educational level of the society. This study subjects several topics under the light of the primary sources left by the American officials serving in Turkey during the early Republican period. The topics surveyed included the minority schools, educational activities in Turkey, the Republican awareness of the significance of education, the number of students in educational institutions, the literacy rates and the activities made for social and cultural development.

Keywords: Türkiye, Cumhuriyet, eğitim, Amerikan Belgeleri

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