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Darüşşafaka Society was founded in 1863 with the aim of providing equality of opportunity in education to needy, talented children who had lost their fathers. Since then, it has maintained its presence with this mission of "equality of opportunity in education." Our 158-year old Society, whose role is to raise funds via donations to finance the school, amended its statutes on 14 April 2012 and opened the doors of Darüşşafaka Schools to also include students who have lost their mothers. Today, Darüşşafaka creates a better future for needy, talented students with one or no parents. Inviting students at the age of ten, the Society provides full scholarship and boarding from a student’s fifth year through to the end of high school. Given an opportunity for a world-class education, students are able to embark on a new life as self confident, thinking, inquiring, and curious individuals who feel responsible for the community.

In addition to all educational expenditures, student’s daily needs such as clothing, accommodation, food, and health services are all covered by donations to the Society. Darüşşafaka Society receives no state funding. 

Each student at Darüşşafaka is a member of one of the most extensive and connected families in Turkey. The sense of fraternity, and the support that comes with it, remain with our students throughout both their personal and professional lives.  

A Never Ending Story

Today nearly 1,000 children from all over Turkey who qualify by passing an entrance exam are able to continue their education in Darüşşafaka Schools with full scholarship for 8 years from the first year of secondary school through to the end of high school. The Society gives students a monthly allowance as well peace of mind to study without financial worries. Our scholarships continue during their university education.

A Light That Has Illuminated Since 1863 With The Support Of Those Who Dream Of A Better Future For The Country

All opportunities offered to our children in Darüşşafaka Schools are made possible by donations from individuals, organizations and companies. We provide our children with an equal opportunity in education with the support of countless generous philanthropists which have included Zübeyde Hanım, Atatürk’s mother, and Makbule Atadan, his sister, and Sait Faik, the great man of letters. We offer this very basic right of access to education, as expressly put forth in the United Nations Human Rights Declaration, to our students through an examination that is conducted fairly.

Lives That Have Been Improved With Education

Salih Zeki, the mathematician; Prof. Dr. Adnan Sokullu, the leader of the ultrasonography; Mahmut Cuda, the painter; Muhittin Sebati, the painter; Ahmet Rasim, one of Turkey’s leading literary figures; Prof. Dr. Rıdvan Cebiroğlu, Turkey’s first child psychiatrist; Mehmet İzzet, the mathematician; Hasan Ferit, the financier; İsmail Sefa, the man of letters; Berna Moran, the literary critic; Osman Nuri Ergin, Turkey’s first city historian and prominent municipalist; İhsan Devrim, the actor; Kazım Uz, the composer; Reşat Aysu, the musician; Necdet Seçkinöz, the undersecretary of the Prime Ministry and the general secretary of the President; Tolga Aşkıner, the actor-director; Tekin Aral, the cartoonist, and many more. All lost their fathers at an early age, and none of them had the opportunity to attend school – let alone afford a good education. All of these popular figures were able to benefit from an improved life as a result of donations from generous philanthropists defending a child’s right to a good education. They all studied at Darüşşafaka with affection and stepped into a new world as a result of their education. They changed not only their own lives but also their families' lives, and they made their marks on their country's future. Darüşşafaka Society has been working for that ultimate purpose since 1863!

From The Apprenticeship Training Of The Grand Bazaar To The Modern Education Of Today

The original purpose of the Society founded by Gazi Ahmet Muhtar Pasha, Vidinli Tevfik Pasha, Sakızlı Ahmet Esat Pasha and Ali Nâki Efendi under the leadership of Yusuf Ziya Pasha, a prominent mathematician, soldier and statesman of the time, was to finance the training of the Grand Bazaar's young craftsmen. The Society renovated the old Valide School in Beyazit, and thereafter many intellectuals including the national poet Namık Kemal joined the school as volunteer teachers. In 1868 the Society commenced construction of the Ottoman Empire’s first building built specifically for the purpose of education; up until this time, the common practice was to use old barracks or mansions as school buildings. The school, located in Istanbul’s Fatih district, was designed by the Italian architect Barironi and planned by Dolmabahçe Palace's chief architect Ohannes Balyan. The school, which was suitable for both girls and boys to study under the same roof and which offered facilities and opportunities way ahead of its time, opened its doors as a free boarding school pursuant to a private statute in June 1873 under the name "Darüşşafakat'ül İslamiye." Ever since, the Society has continued its efforts to provide financing for the education of students studying at Darüşşafaka.

In the late 1800s, the number of Western-style schools in Turkey could be counted on one hand. The main characteristic that distinguished Darüşşafaka from these other schools was its embrace of an "equality of opportunity in education" mission from its very first day. The Society provided needy children without fathers with a high quality education whereas similar schools generally catered to the children of wealthy families. Although the Society has altered its curriculum, name, and location over the years, it has never deviated from its original mission of improving the lives of children via education.

Aim: To Improve the Lives of More Children Via Education

The Darüşşafaka Family broadly consists of the Darüşşafaka Society, Darüşşafaka Schools, Darüşşafaka Residences (Yakacık, Maltepe, Şenesenevler and Urla Residences), Urla Yaşam, Maltepe Special Care Unit, Ömran and Yahya Hamuluoğlu Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Center, Darüşşafaka Sports Club, and the Darüşşafaka Alumni Association. The common aim of all these organisations is, in conjunction with support from generous individuals and institutions, to provide a high quality education. Donations to the Society include both cash, financial assets, and real assets (including real estate) and are received either via outright gifts or bequests via last will and testament. Having never allowed a single action that would violate the confidence of its donors, the Society endures as an institution as a result of donations from those who believe that a better future for the country can be made possible only via education and who know that they can donate to us with perfect confidence.

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