“Cemiyet-i Tedrisiyye-i İslamiye”, a society aiming to provide Islamic education, was established on 30 March 1863, upon an imperial order of the Sultan, by Yusuf Ziya Pasha, Gazi Ahmed Muhtar Pasha, Vidinli Tevfik Pasha, Sakızlı Ahmet Pasha, and Ali Naki Effendi. The purpose was to support education of needy and orphaned children. The society, whose members comprised of many Ottoman pashas and intellectuals, constituted the very first non-governmental organization of Turkey in the field of education.
Initially, the purpose was to educate the apprentices working in and around the Grand Bazaar. An old building in Beyazıt was renewed so as to serve as the school building, comprising of one single classroom, and with the materials were provided by the Society. Each and every instructor of this school, which is deemed as the first public school in Turkey, worked as volunteers. The school continued its activities until 1873.
The Society published a monthly magazine (“Mebahis-i İlmiye”, meaning scientific matters) as of 1867, covering mainly issues related to positive sciences. The Magazine had a broad range of readers, including students from Harbiye Mektebi, a military school providing the most progressive education of the time. It then turned out to be a common practice among other schools, to use the textbooks prepared for Darüşşafaka students in their own classes as well.
Construction of a new school building designed by the Italian architect Barironi and blueprinted by the chief architect of Dolmabahçe Palace, Ohannes Balyan, began on a plot purchased by help of a donation from Sultan Abdülaziz. This large school building, embodying facilities ahead of the time, was the first one to provide coeducation.
The Charter of the Society, dated 25 March 1872, stated clearly that the Society would attach great importance to love of nation and national dedication, and so its members would comprise of people, who have internalized these concepts. The Charter also specified, that the school would provide education to children not older than 10 years, that all the expenses of those children would be covered by the Society, that both an administrative and an educational board would be established, and that a headmaster and a headmistress would be appointed. (It was no earlier than 1965, when Nazıma Antel was appointed, that the school had a headmistress, and the admission of first female students was in 1971.)
Darüşşafakar’ül İslamiye, as a feeless boarding school designated with special status, started its first academic term on 29 June, with its 54 students, along with a first lecture given by Captain Mustafa Effendi. The curriculum comprised the syllabi of primary, secondary, and high schools, and was more qualified than the one prepared by the Ministry of Education. The syllabus for the last 2 of the 8 years in the school, was prepared in accordance with the program of the Academy, which was the reason Darüşşafaka graduates were deemed as Academy graduates until the year 1894. In addition, for the reason that last year in Darüşşafaka was called “Telegram-Science School”, Darüşşafaka was then known as a telegram-science school.
The war among Russia and the Ottoman Empire (1877-1878), known as “the ’93 War”, had an impact on the education provided in Darüşşafaka. Thousands of people from the occupied territories migrated to Istanbul, as a result of which more than 1000 male and female children were quartered in Darüşşafaka building by the Society. In time, some of them were quartered in other places, whereas male orphaned children were registered as Darüşşafaka students. Thereafter, the school functioned as before, yet some classes were cancelled for about 6 months, as the instructors, who were mostly military officers, had left for the war.
Upon the decision of the Council of Ministers to transform Mekteb-i Mülkiye (School of Political Sciences) into a university, a report was filed to Abdülhamit II, proposing to give Darüşşafaka building to this new university. The Sultan, however, in the decree sent to the government, rejected the idea, stating Darüşşafaka was providing education to over 200 needy and orphaned Muslim children with the help of the benefactors.
Darüşşafaka celebrated its first graduates, 8 students, who then were employed by the Ministry of Post and Telegram, with the help of the Minister İzzet Effendi. By then, 125 students were studying at Darüşşafaka.
Until this date, there had been no high schools in the country other than Darüşşafaka, Galatasaray, and the military high schools. Many intellectuals of the time (including poet Namık Kemal, state chronicler Abdurrahman Şeref Bey, Manyasizade Mustafa Refik Bey, Babanzade Naim Bey, composer Zekai Effendi, Ahmet Mithat Effendi, painter Agah Effendi, Selim Sırrı Tarcan, poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, historian Yusuf Akçura, Tahir Olgun, and painter Ali Rıza Hoca) served as voluntary instructors in Darüşşafaka, during the 1880s, and until the mid-1990s. Additionally, lots of important artists, scientists and scholars were Darüşşafaka graduates (such as mathematicians Salih Zeki and Mehmet İzzet, financier Hasan Ferit, journalist Ahmet Rasim, author İsmail Safa, historian Osman Nuri Ergin, educator Ali Kami Akyüz, who later served as the headmaster of Darüşşafaka between 1920 and 1940, and painter Mahmut Cûda), and most of them later served as instructors in Darüşşafaka for many years.
It had been by virtue of the Society’s financial means, that Darüşşafaka continued its functions. With the initiative of the Grand Vizier Said Pasha, who visited the School in 1884, and was very pleased with the education, some expenses of Darüşşafaka were covered from the treasury. Six graduates of that year paid a visit to Abdülhamit II, and presented their paintings to the Sultan, as a way to express their gratitude. As of that year, it turned out to be a tradition for each year’s graduates to present their paintings to the Sultan.
The members of the Society were facing ever-increasing difficulties coming together, as holding meetings of any kind was banned. The School was in financial difficulty, therefore, Abdülhamit II, took Darüşşafaka under his protection. The state then initiated the practice for each company, which has been granted privileges, to provide financial support to Darüşşafaka, and so this practice ended the financial difficulty.
Due to a resistance movement arising among students, the Ottoman Empire seized control of the School, and eventually, the administration of the School was attached to the Ministry of Education. Consequently, it put an end to the situated practice of intellectuals volunteering as instructors, and Cemiyet-i Tedrisiye-i İslamiye (Ottoman Association of Education) disbanded. Newly turned into a public school, Darüşşafaka deviated from its original purpose. Some of the notables’ children, and some children who actually had parents were accepted to the School as well, and it continued as such until the second constitutionalist period.
With the proclamation of the second constitutional monarchy, former members of the Society and Darüşşafaka graduates came together to form an alumni association, with the aim to sustain the School.
The members of the Cemiyet-i Tedrisiye-i İslamiye, along with the famous politicians of the time, came together under the chairmanship of the Grand Vizier, and the Society began to work again. First thing to do, was to apply Ministry of Education for taking over the School’s administration back, and their request was met the same year.
Darüşşafaka had a rough time during the period of both WWI, and the War of Independence. Still, the very same period signifies very active, as well as meaningful years for the School for many reasons: The expenses of the School were partially covered by the government from 1914 to 1916. Although the financial difficulties increased towards the end of the war, the School got by with some donations. In the meantime, it was decided, that the education would last ten years instead of eight, and that the students, in their last two years, would take courses on teaching profession. Darüşşafaka was then identified as a teaching college. In 1919, ten years period of education was changed into eight again.
• The Society admitted women as members for the first time.
• Darüşşafaka Sports Club was established (1914).
• The number of members of the Society, which was only 150 in 1909, increased to 700 in 1916, and to 1,400 in 1917.
• There were no Darüşşafaka graduates between the years 1916 and 1918, as high school students were conscripted for the Battle of Gallipoli, and many were martyred. No new students were admitted in the years 1919 and 1920, and as a result, the number of students has dropped to 200.
• The School began admitting students again in the academic year 1921-1922.
The Law on Unification of Education dated 1924, aimed at unifying and secularizing the education system. It also put an emphasis on the concept of Turkish nationality. The Board of the Society decided they would make significant amendments in accordance with this Law, so the School became a full-time private high school, and followed curriculum of the public schools. Those amendments were accepted by the Ministry of Education; thus, Istanbul University and other universities began admitting Darüşşafaka graduates along with graduates of public high schools without an examination. Thereafter, the School was called “Darüşşafaka High School”.
With the purpose of training primary school teachers, a separate “teachers class”, at the level of the senior class of the Teaching Schools, was opened. The first group graduated in 1929, but the class was closed in 1930, upon the request of the Ministry.
By then, the School had only science classes, as the graduates had mostly chosen to study on the fields of science in the university. The literature class was opened in 1931.
The Society changed its name as “Turkish Teaching Institution”. In 1939, 83 children, who went through the Erzincan earthquake and who fulfilled the conditions to study at Darüşşafaka, were admitted to the School, and Isbank undertook all expenses of those children. This exemplary behavior of Darüşşafaka was found applaudable.
Until that year, Darüşşafaka students, as the students of public high schools, had the right to repeat a year, but the Society decided it would best to put an end to this practice, so that more qualified students, with the awareness of how much money and time were invested in their education, could be raised.
Prime Ministers holding office during the 40s (Recep Peker who was also a member of the Society, Hasan Saka, and Şemseddin Günaltay) were closely interested in the School. They focused mainly on the acceptance of female students to the School, and their governments supported Darüşşafaka.
Darüşşafaka started providing English courses in addition to French courses.
A student dormitory in Fatih was provided to Darüşşafaka graduates studying at university.
In the season 1950-1951, Darüşşafaka High School Basketball Team became champion among the high schools in Istanbul. Therefore, Darüşşafaka Sports Club started to offer Basketball in addition to football and volleyball. The amateur Basketball team started playing in the leagues in 1961, won the championship cup several times after that, and even raised successful players for the national team.
The Society adopted the name “Darüşşafaka Society” with a charter amendment.
Upon the death of poet and writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık, his mother, Makbule Abasıyanık, donated the copyright of his books and some of his assets to Darüşşafaka, as per his wish. She also initiated the “Sait Faik Story Award” in 1955, to be given each year on his death anniversaries (11 May) to the favorite storybook of the previous year. The Award, given in cooperation with Yapı Kredi Bank from 2003 to 2011, started to be given in cooperation with Isbank as of 2012. His house in Burgazada was transformed into a museum by Darüşşafaka in 1964.
The academic year 1955-1956 was significant for Darüşşafaka, in the sense that the School obtained a college status offering education in English. The School introduced a two-year prep class, and science and mathematics courses started to be given in English.
Darüşşafaka started to hold its entrance exam in Ankara, İzmir, and Adana, in addition to Istanbul.
Investment policies were remarkably modified, in order to obtain more sustainable sources of income, and secure Darüşşafaka’s future. A shopping mall called “Darüşşafaka Complex” (in Halaskargazi Street in Şişli) was constructed in line with this purpose, and was put into service by Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.
The School began admitting financially disadvantaged students whose fathers are alive too, however, this practice ended in 1976.
The Board decided on the construction of a “Girls School” building and to move to co-education in 1969.
The Board decided to construct a “Girls College” building, and to start providing coeducation. Facilities, designed by Professor-in-Ordinary Master Architect Emin Onat, were put into service in the academic year 1971-1972, Darüşşafaka began admitting female students as well.
The renovated five-storey school building, with its conference hall, sports hall, modern kitchen, dining hall, laboratories, and lodgings, was put into service by President Cevdet Sunay.
Children of soldiers martyred in the Cyprus Peace Operation were accepted to Darüşşafaka with no requirement of examination.
Darüşşafaka celebrated its first female graduates.
Darüşşafaka Society was exempted from all kinds of tax, fee and other financial obligations with Law no 3685, published in the Official Gazette on 5 December 1990.
It was decided to move out of the facilities in Fatih, and construct residences for donators, so that they would spend their older ages in a safe, healthy environment. Part of the treasury’s land in Maslak Balabandere, which had been allocated for the Ministry of Defense, and which was about to be handed on to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, was transferred to the Society, with close interest of Zeki Yavuztürk (Minister of Defense), and the support of President Kenan Evren. A competition was organized to decide on the architectural Project, and the jury selected the Project of Dr. Fatih Gorbon. Hereinafter, the construction of Maslak Campus began.
As Darüşşafaka Schools’ new campus in Maslak was put into service, the 120-year-old building was sold to Ziraat Bank.
Beginning from mid-1980s, the success rate of Darüşşafaka graduates in the university entrance exam tended to fall. A panel was organized in 1922, as part of the project “Ameliorating the Level of Education in Darüşşafaka”, and a report concerning the reasons of this problem was prepared in 1994, by some of the previous headmasters/head ministers of the School, Prof. Dr. Bozkurt Güvenç, Prof. Dr. Barlas Tolan, and Doç. Dr. Pervin Olgun. This report, prepared upon a research, was released to the public and brought up for discussion in January 1995, with a forum called “Darüşşafaka Towards 21st Century”. Many issues were addressed, and some suggestions were made such as strengthening the Darüşşafaka spirit, accepting students from a wider variety of backgrounds, employing more qualified teachers, assigning graduates some duties within the School, establishing a parent-teacher association, providing consulting service to students on the choice of university and profession, and maintaining a closer relationship among the Society and the students.
Darüşşafaka was then identified as an Anatolian High School providing education in foreign languages.
Yakacık Residence was put into service as the very first example of the residences designed for the donators of Darüşşafaka to spend their lives in a comfortable and safe place at later ages. The sport complex in Maslak was completed and opened the same year.
The book “The History of Darüşşafaka 1863-1994” was published following a detailed research, in cooperation with Economic and Social History Foundation of Turkey.
41 students, living though the earthquake of 17 August, were accepted to the School with no examination. Likewise, the School demanded no examination to accept the children of martyred soldiers and police officers, and 78 such children were accepted to the School between 1997 and 2007.
Darüşşafaka hosted 108 students, who lived through the Bingöl earthquake, for a while.
Maltepe Residence, Şenesenevler Residence, Darüşşafaka Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center, and Maltepe Special Care Unit opened their doors to Darüşşafaka donators.
In the memory of Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Darüşşafaka High School started organizing a story-writing competition among high schools in Istanbul.
Fundamental changes took place regarding both the Society and the School administration:
As a result of several meetings held with the participation of the administrators of both the Society and the School, teachers, representatives of both the students and the Parent-Teacher Association, and experts in the field of education, a 5-year strategic plan for the years 2007 to 2012 was developed with the purpose to improve the School further.
Urla Residence started operating in İzmir.
Darüşşafaka Elementary School started organizing a column-writing competition in the memory of journalist and writer Ahmet Rasim, who was both a graduate and a teacher of Darüşşafaka, among the elementary schools in Istanbul.
A new testing system based upon intelligence, talent and creativity instead of knowledge was adopted for students willing to study at Darüşşafaka. Hereby, talented children living in rural areas and lacking the same opportunities could also be part of this family, and so the principle of “Equality of Opportunity in Education” could be ensured. In addition, the number of provinces, where the exam was conducted, increased.
Darüşşafaka started “Darüşşafaka Seeks for its Parents” program, as well as annual donation campaigns within the Darüşşafaka family.
The project “81 Students from 81 Provinces” was initiated in cooperation with Isbank, and the first students accepted within this scope began studying at Darüşşafaka.
Following the tragic event in Mardin, where several people were killed, Darüşşafaka opened its door to 5 children meeting the requirements.
To ensure Darüşşafaka broadens its horizon in the globalizing world, the High Advisory Board was established with the participation of opinion leaders of the society.
A social responsibility project called “From Dreams to Reality” was initiated in cooperation with Procter & Gamble Turkey.
The Law no 6009, enabling the use of the school campus for commercial purposes provided the educational activities are not disrupted, was published in the Official Gazette on August 1, 2010.
A number of studies were initiated in order to strengthen the principles of corporate governance.
Darüşşafaka Educational Institutions Regulation, Ministry of National Education Darüşşafaka Elementary School Regulation, and Ministry of National Education Darüşşafaka High School Regulation were separately approved by Ministry of National Education Board of Education and Discipline on 13 September 2011.
In memory of Nazima Antel, the first headmistress of Darüşşafaka, the School began granting “Nazıma Antel Awards” to students who achieved success in the field of English in out-of-school activities.
As it was the 40th year after the first time female students were accepted to the School, female Darüşşafaka graduates started the campaign “Daçka Girls 40th Year”, with the purpose of collecting TL 1,000,000, education expense of ten girls for ten years.
The purpose article of the Charter was amended on 14 April, in the extraordinary general assembly, to which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated as the natural president of Darüşşafaka Society. With this amendment, it became possible for students who have lost their mothers to be accepted to Darüşşafaka, as well as the students who have lost their fathers. The term “Turkish-Islamic children” in the relevant article was replaced with “citizen of the Republic of Turkey”. A new article, on the ideal qualifications of individuals Darüşşafaka wants to raise, was added to the Charter.
3rd grade students, whose mothers have passed away, took Darüşşafaka Entrance Exam for the first time.
The conference “Equality of Opportunity in Accessing a Qualified International Education” was held.
Darüşşafaka celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum was renovated.
Darüşşafaka received 8.4 points out of 10 in the rating (prepared in accordance with the Corporate Governance Principles of Capital Markets Board, and approved by the CMB) conducted by Kobirate Corporation. Darüşşafaka became the first NGO in Turkey conducting an independent corporate governance rating study, and document its transparency, accountability, and sustainability.
In order to adopt itself to the new education system known as 4+4+4, Darüşşafaka closed its elementary school classes, and started to accept students as 5th graders instead of 4th in the academic year 2013-2014. Since the School had already 5th grade classes filled with students who were accepted the previous year as 4th graders, the number of new students to be accepted in that academic year was limited to 75.
• The five-year strategic plan of 2015-2020 was prepared.
• Darüşşafaka Techno-Entrepreneurship Youth Center was opened.
• Darüşşafaka started giving scholarships to university students who are not Daarüşşafaka graduates.
• Darüşşafaka increased its score from 8.4 to 8.64/10 in the independent corporate governance rating.
• First steps were taken in accordance with the five-year strategic plan of 2015-2020.
• The focus was on receiving regular donations, thus, a donation campaign was launched with the slogan “Not all expenses are essential, but education is”.
• Darüşşafaka increased its score from 8.64 to 9.08/10 in the independent corporate governance rating.
• Darüşşafaka was granted the “special consultative status” by ECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council).
• 130 students instead of 120 were accepted to Darüşşafaka Middle School, by means of the donation of Halidun Tınaztepe, Şenesenevler Residence Donator.
• By virtue of the donations of Halidun Tınaztepe (Şenesenevler Residence Donator), and Güler Haşimoğlu (Yakacık Residence Donator), 122 students were accepted to the School instead of 120.
• Darüşşafaka increased its score from 9.08 to 9.29/10 in the independent corporate governance rating.
• The campaign with the slogan “Not all expenses are essential, but education is” won the Golden Effie Prize in CSO (Civil Society Organization) Category.
• Darüşşafaka increased its score from 9.29 to 9.43/10 in the independent corporate governance rating.