The History of Primary Education in the Ottomans

The Sıbyan Mekteps, which refer to level below the medreses in the education system of the Ottoman Empire, were in function until the Republican period. Their number exceeded the number of the medreses and they stretched extensively over Anatolia. There has been a recent surge in the academic research concerning these schools. In order to attain precise information about their context, however, these schools have to be treated as local studies, and the archives, charters of waqfs and court records should be scrutinized. Easier access to various documents in the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives, charters of waqfs in the Directorate General of Waqfs and court records in various cities has facilitated the groundwork for studies conducted on the Sıbyan Mekteps as well as medreses. Recently, some Masters theses have been written on the history and the functioning of the Sıbyan Mekteps. Though remaining low in number, they allow for a gradual clarification of our deficient knowledge in the field. As it may be seen in the bibliography provided at the end of this article, the studies directly dealing with these schools are relatively scarce. Taken as a whole, it can be claimed that our information on the general history of the Sıbyan Mekteps, their functioning, classification and architectural structure remains insufficient. On the other hand, we have good reason to expect a proliferation of the studies that will treat these schools from different perspectives in near future.


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