Ruşdiye Schools

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Ottoman secular primary schools.

The first ruşdiye primary schools were established in 1838 at the Süleymaniye and Sultan Ahmet mosques in Istanbul by Sultan Mahmud II, to prepare young men to attend his new technical schools. These schools slowly became an alternative to the religious education system, numbering sixty by 1853. Their graduates staffed the Ottoman Empire's expanding administration and military during the Tanzimat era and beyond. In the early years, students aged ten to fifteen years (and later even younger) studied languages, mathematics, science, history, and religion for four years. By the late nineteenth century, nearly every provincial town had a ruşdiye school. In 1895, more than thirty-five thousand students, about four thousand of them non-Muslim, attended the state-run ruşdiye schools. The first ruşdiye for girls was founded in 1858.

The military built its own system of schools beginning in 1855, and its ruşdiye schools enrolled eight thousand boys in 1895. İdadi (middle) Schools were added in the late nineteenth century. In addition, in 1895 a separate system of millet ruşdiye schools, run by various religious groups, enrolled seventy-six thousand non-Muslim students.

see also İdadi schools; tanzimat.


Kazamias, Andreas M. Education and the Quest for Modernity in Turkey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.

Shaw, Stanford J., and Shaw, Ezel Kural. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol. 2: Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 18081975. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

elizabeth thompson