City of Van – Schools (Second Part)

Armenian Educational Institutions Operating in the City of Van on the Eve of the Armenian Genocide

Author: Robert Tatoyan, 28/06/22 (Last modified 28/06/22) - Translator: Simon Beugekian

Parochial (National/Neighborhood) Schools

The Hisousian and Shoushanian United Coeducational School (Downtown Van)

The Hisousian School was founded in 1830, on the initiative of Sharan Bek Sharanian, a merchant from Van. The school was named Hisousian in 1847-1848, as part of the reorganization of the city’s neighborhood schools, becoming the main or “mother” school of Van. [1]

The school was housed in a building located in the courtyard adjacent to the Holy Virgin Church of downtown Van. The building was entirely renovated in 1881-1882. The old building was replaced by “a more elegant, exceptional two-story structure … with new and suitable classrooms.” [2]

On the year of its reorganization, total enrollment at the school stood at 100 pupils. The headmaster was Manouel Ardamedtsian (who would later be ordained as a priest and styled as Father Dionysius). [3]

The school’s growth and development owed much to the “indomitable and tireless” work of its principal and headmaster, Sarkis Knouni, in the 1860s and 1870s. Specifically, he led efforts to produce the first theatrical performance in the history of Van, in the school’s large hall. [4]

The years 1891-1896 were considered the most prosperous period in the history of the school, under the leadership of principal/headmaster Yeghishe Kondakchian, who was one of the most promising graduates of the Portoukalian Normal School and was reputed to be one of the best teachers in Van. [5]

After 1896, the position of headmaster of the Hisousian School was held, in chronological order, by Garabed Adjemkhachoyan, Bedros Tashchian, Armenag D. Boghosian, and Haygag Gosoyan (who was one of the leaders of the downtown Van military committee during the 1915 self-defense battles). [6]

The Shoushanian School was opened in 1881. Initially, it operated alongside the Saint Vartan Church of downtown Van. In 1890, the school moved into a new building built in the courtyard of the twin Saint Paul-Peter and Holy Evangelists churches, thus merging with the Hisousian School. [7]

In 1899, the two schools had a combined enrollment of 250 pupils. [8]

In the 1901-1902 school year, the Hisousian School had an enrollment of 157 boys, and the Shoushanian School had an enrollment of 100 girls. The combined faculty of the two schools consisted of seven male and two female teachers. The schools’ monthly income and expenses were 1,125 kurus, of which 1,025 was provided by the neighborhood council and 100 came from the tuition fees. [9]

In the 1910-1911 school year, the twin schools had five separate boys’ and girls’ grade levels, with a total enrollment of 104 boys and 86 girls. Of these 190 total pupils, 119 were exempt from paying tuition fees. The combined faculty consisted of five male and three female teachers. The two schools’ yearly budget was 18,000 kurus, of which 1,300 came from tuition fees, and 16,700 was provided by the neighborhood council. [10]

The S. Madteosian (S. Tarkmanchats) School (Aykesdan – Arark Neighborhood)

The school of the Arark neighborhood of Aykesdan was founded in the 1830s. It was restructured as the S. Madteosian School in 1846-1847. In the second half of the 1880s, it was renamed S. Tarkmanchats, at which point it also began operating as a coeducational institution.

In the first school year after its restructuring, enrollment at the school stood at 250 pupils. [11] The first principal/headmaster after restructuring was Father Bedros Ardamedtsian. [12] He was succeeded by Garabed Mogatsian, Reverend Khachadour Bolsetsi, Teacher Manouel (1860s), Hayrabed Djanigian (also known as Father Mesrob; until 1875), Ohannes Paraghamian, Kevork Odian, Sahag Tarpinian, and Hayrabed Djanigian again. [13] After 1896, the headmasters of the school were, in chronological order, Ghevont Khandjian; Garabed Adjemkhachoyan; Roupen Ghougasian; once again Garabed Adjemkhachoyan; and beginning in 1913, Kevork Tovmaghian. [14]

In 1899, the school’s enrollment stood at 350 pupils of both sexes. [15]

1) Van, Aikesdan neighborhood: Main street. Photo: Nshan Tourshian (Source: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions archives, Harvard University, Houghton Library).
2) Van. A scene from an Armenian neighborhood, 1896 (Source: Mekhitarist Order, San Lazzaro, Venice).
3) Van. The Norashen district in 1917 (Source: Bedros Yeghiayian collection, London).

In the 1901-1902 school year, the school’s enrollment stood at 450 pupils, of whom 270 were boys and 180 were girls. The faculty consisted of eight male and three female teachers. The boys’ teachers would also occasionally teach in the girls’ section. [16] The school’s monthly income and expenses totaled 1,417 kurus, of which 1,250 was provided by the neighborhood council, and 167 came from the pupils’ tuitions fees. [17]

In the 1910-1911 school year, the school had five boys’ and eight girls’ grade levels, with an enrollment of 198 boys and 188 girls (total enrollment of 386 pupils, of whom 142 were exempt from tuition fees). The faculty consisted of 13 teachers, of whom eight were male and five were female. The school’s yearly budget was 25,000 kurus, of which 6,000 came from tuition fees, and 19,000 was provided by the neighborhood council. [18]

The school building was renovated in 1885-1886, based on plans devised by imperial architect Boghos Takavorian. The new, two-story building was described as “colossal” and built with “great care to the masonry.” [19] The first floor included the office of the Ararouts neighborhood council, the carpentry workshop for the institution’s pupils, the rug-waving workshop, and various storerooms and stalls. The second floor housed a large lecture room, a large event hall, and 12 classrooms. [20]

The S. Hovhannesian School (Aykesdan – Norashen Neighborhood)

The S. Hovhannesian School of the Norashen neighborhood of Aykesdan was founded in 1846-1847. In the year of its founding, it had an enrollment of 180 pupils. The headmaster was Hovhannes Kolozian (Hovhannes Koloz), described as having “expert knowledge of classical Armenian and of liturgical music.” [21] From 1880 to 1909, the school’s principals/headmasters were, in chronological order, Karekin Pagheshtsian, Krikor Adjemian, Sahag Der-Haroutyunian, Yeghishe Kondakchian (as the headmaster of the “United” School, which was created by merging the schools of the Norashen, Hangouysner, and S. Hagop neighborhoods after the massacres of 1896), Roupen Shadvorian, Krikor Adjemian once again (until 1907), Garabed Adjemian, Levon Sarkisian, and Aharon Doudigian (1908-1909). After 1909, the school did not have a principal/headmaster, and was administered collectively by its faculty. [22]

In 1884, the school had an enrollment of 130 pupils and a faculty consisting of seven teachers. [23]

In the 1901-1902 school year, the school had an enrollment of 200 boys, under the care of five teachers. The monthly income and expenses of the school totaled 667 kurus, of which 542 was provided by the neighborhood council, and 125 came from tuition fees. [24]

In 1910-1911, the school had five grade levels and an enrollment of 146 pupils (46 of them exempt from paying tuition fees), under the care of six teachers. The school’s budget was 12,900 kurus, of which 3,700 came from tuition fees and 9,200 was provided by the neighborhood council. [25]

Initially, the school was housed in a building adjacent to the neighborhood church. In the 1880s, this building was described as “the largest gathering place” in Van, occupying a central position in the city. [26] In 1905, the school moved into a new building in the Adjem-Khachoyan neighborhood of the Norashen district. [27]

The S. Margosian and Kayinian Combined Coeducational School (Aykesdan – Hangouysner Neighborhood)

This school was founded in 1846-1847. In its first school year, it had an enrollment of 200 pupils. [28] The headmaster was Avedis Saharouni (Father Gonstantin), with his term spanning the early 1880s. The assistant teacher was Panos Farhadian. [29] From the 1880s to 1903, the school’s headmasters, in chronological order, were Mgrdich Portoukalian, Khoren Khrimian, Krikor Beozigian, Melkon Bartevian, Krikor Adjemian, and Roupen Shadvorian. From 1905 to 1915, the school’s headmasters were, alternately, Hovhannes Gouloghlian and Mgrdich Adjemian. [30]

The school’s girls’ section, called the Kayinian School, was opened in 1880 and operated intermittently. [31]

In 1884, enrollment stood at 200 boys and 30 girls, under the care of seven teachers. [32]

In 1899, the school had an enrollment of approximately 150 pupils. [33]

1) Dikran Amirdjanian; 2) Khachadour Levonian; 3) Margos Natanian; 4) Mgrdich Portoukalian; 5) Khoren Khrimian; 6) Hovhannes Kouloghlian.

In the 1901-1902 school year, the school had an enrollment of 200 boys, under the care of eight teachers. The school’s monthly income and expenses totaled 847 kurus, of which 660 was provided by the neighborhood council and 187 came from tuition fees. [34]

In the 1910-1911 school year, the school had five boys’ and five girls’ grade levels, with a total enrollment of 252 pupils (162 boys and 90 girls), of whom 126 were exempt from tuition fees. The faculty consisted of nine teachers (six male and three female). The school’s yearly budget was 18,500 kurus, of which 3,500 came from tuition fees and 15,000 was provided by the neighborhood council. [35]

The school building was burned down during the massacres of 1896 and was rebuilt in 1899. [36]

The S. Ghougasian School (Aykesdan – S. Hagop Neighborhood)

This school was founded in 1846-1847. Its founding headmaster was Mardiros Papazian (born in the Ardamed village of Van, and hence known as Mardiros Ardamerdtsian). He was later styled Father Mesrob, first as a novitiate and then a priest. [37] Between 1854 and 1870, the school’s principal/headmaster was Dikran Amirdjanian. [38]

In the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, as Armenians gradually moved away from the area and to safer districts with larger Armenian populations, enrollment at the S. Ghougasian School plummeted, and by 1915, it had the smallest enrollment and faculty of all Armenian parochial schools in the city. In its inaugural school year (1846-1847), the school had an enrollment of 150 pupils [39]; 110 pupils in 1884; 60 pupils and two teachers in the 1901-1902 school year [40]; and finally, in 1909, only 40 pupils and three teachers. [41]

The S. Ghougasian School had the smallest budget of any parochial Armenian school in Van. In the 1901-1902 school year, its monthly expenses and income totaled 225 kurus, of which 200 was provided by the neighborhood council and 25 came from tuition fees. [42] In the early 1910s, the provincial government’s educational department (Mearif) assumed the responsibility of financing the school. [43]

It is important to note that in 1884, the Ottoman Empire enacted a special education tax (Mearif hisse-i ianesi), which was to be used to finance educational programs across the empire. The tax was paid by all Ottoman citizens, and consisted of 0.5 percent of the entire annual harvest of a rural parish or 0.1 percent of the entire real estate value of an urban parish. [44] The proceeds from these taxes, alongside additional budget appropriations, constituted the educational budget of the Ottoman central authorities and provincial governments. Some of these funds were also earmarked for private educational institutions. Each provincial governor would distribute the educational budget to local schools based on the rules of proportionality of Ottoman millets/religious communities, using data from censuses conducted by the central government. The list of non-Muslim institutions that received government allocations was based on suggestions received from each community’s leading body (in the case of the Armenians, the Prelacy).

According to reports that appeared in the contemporary Armenian press of Van, the 1913 educational budget of the province of Van earmarked 6,300 kurus to each of the Haygian School of Haygavank and the S. Ghougasian School of the S. Hagop neighborhood. This sum was enough for both schools to mostly meet their financial needs. A sum of 2,400 kurus was also allocated to each of the Central, Santkhdian, Hisousian, Arark neighborhood, Hangouysner, Yeramian, and Kondakchian schools, and even the Protestant missionaries’ school. [45]

The Haygian School of Haygavank

The Haygian School was founded as a parochial school in 1860. Its headmaster was Hagop Effendi Plavian. In its first year of operation, the school had an enrollment of 80 pupils. [46]

The school experienced its best years in the 1880s, when its headmaster was Kevork Sherents, a native of Haygavank. [47] During his term, in 1884, enrollment at the school reached 100 to 120 pupils, under the care of two teachers. [48]

The migration of the Armenian population of Haygavank to the city’s safer and more Armenian-populated districts brought about the school’s decline. In the second half of the 1890s, the school’s administration was handed over to the educational department of the provincial authorities. [49]

In 1909, the school had an enrollment of 30 pupils, under the care of two teachers. [50]

The Santkhdian Girls’ School (Sari Tar neighborhood)

The Santkhdian Girls’ School first opened on July 28, 1870, on the feast day of Saint Santoukhd. [51]

From the early 1880s, the school offered a ten-year course of instruction, including three levels of schooling – elementary, primary, and secondary. [52]

The school’s main source of income was the 100 Ottoman pounds per year generated from the endowment provided by Mgrdich Sanasarian and Krikor Sereprenigov, two Russian philanthropists. This was supplemented by the tuition fees paid by pupils. [53] Mgrdich Sanasarian also funded the construction of a new school building in the early 1880s.

Throughout its history, the school had an enrollment of between 200 and 300 pupils. For example, in the 1901-1902 school year, enrollment stood at 227 girls, taught by nine teachers, of whom four were male and five were female. The school’s monthly budget was 677 kurus, of which 167 came from tuition fees and 510 from donations. [54]

In the 1908-1909 school year, enrollment at the school stood at 230 pupils, taught by eight teachers of both sexes. [55]

In the 1910-1911 school year, enrollment stood at 230 pupils, of whom 159 were exempt from paying tuition fees. The faculty consisted of 14 teachers, of whom eight were female. The school’s budget was 31,700 kurus, of which 7,020 came from tuition fees, 11,772 from endowments, and 12,908 from other donations. [56]

In 1913, the library of the Santkhdian School had a collection of 400 volumes, making it the second largest library in the city after the Yeramian School library, and the largest in terms of children’s books. [57]

The Central Haygazian School (Secondary)

The Central Haygazian parochial school was founded in 1902, following the decision by the Van Prelacy and local parochial councils to centralize secondary instruction in one school, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of education provided across the system. [58]

This was a boys’ school. Admission was open to the graduates of the city’s parochial schools (without having to pass an examination), or other boys who successfully passed the entrance examination. [59]

The school provided a six-year course of instruction, of which the first three years were considered “upper primary” and the next three were considered “secondary” (the secondary classes were dedicated to the preparation of future teachers, clergymen, and public officials). After finishing each grade level, the pupils sat an examination, and the school’s graduates received official diplomas. [60]

In addition to experienced local teachers, the faculty of the Central School also included teachers invited from Constantinople and the Caucasus. For example, the school’s headmaster and Armenian teacher in 1904 was Ghevont Srvantsdyants, a graduate of the Constantinople Central School. The mathematics and natural sciences teacher was Ghevont Meloyan, a graduate of the Echmiadzin Seminary. Another senior teacher was Ardag Tarpinian, a graduate of the Kevorkian Seminary (he later served as the headmaster of the Varakavank School). [61]

Other teachers who were serving at the Central School on the eve of the Armenian Genocide included Arshag Safrasdian, Krikor Adjemian, Mgrdich Adjemian, Hovhannes Gouloghlian, Aharon Doudigian, Hamazasb Yazchian, and Hampartsoum Der-Haroutyunian. The faculty also included two Turkish teachers, Dervish Effendi and Nachi Khoja, who were appointed by the educational department (Mearif) of the Van provincial authorities. They taught Turkish and calligraphy. [62]

The school was administered by its board of trustees, which consisted of two members of the political committee of the Van Prelacy, one representative from each of the four neighborhood church councils in Van, and the headmasters of the city’s four parochial schools. The board’s president was the Prelate of the Diocese of Van (Bishop Sahag Pakrevantian until 1904). [63]

In the 1902-1903 school year, enrollment at the school stood at 80 pupils. The school had a headmaster and 15 visiting teachers, who also taught in the other schools of the city. [64]

In the 1910-1911 school year, the school had four grade levels, an enrollment of 76 pupils (20 of whom were exempt from paying tuition fees), ten teachers, and a budget of 32,400 kurus, of which 3,240 came from tuitions fees, 10,800 from the neighborhood council, 5,400 from various endowments, and 12,960 from donations. [65]

A dedicated building was constructed to house the school, with funds collected for this purpose in Van, Constantinople, and the Caucasus. The building was first put to use in September 1904. [66] It consisted of two floors and was described as “spacious” and “magnificent.” [67] The upper floor included the classrooms, events hall, and teachers’ lounge. Two of the unoccupied rooms on the first floor were used as the weaving workshop. Outside of class hours, the students were allowed to visit the workshop and learn fabric weaving. [68]

A contemporary described the school’s role and significance in the community as follows: “During its approximately 15-year existence, the Central School had a fruitful history, with its graduates notable in both their quantity and quality, and who made their own significant contributions to the educational field and community life in Vasbouragan.” [69]

The Private Armenian Schools of Van

The Van Varjabedanots (Normal School) (1879-1881)/Central School (1881-1885)

The first normal school in Van was founded on January 1, 1879, by the Araradian cultural/educational society that operated in Constantinople (renamed the United Society in 1880). The school was the brainchild of Mgrdich Portoukalian, who also later became the general superintendent of all schools affiliated with the Araradian/United Society in the province of Vasbouragan. [70]

The school’s aim was to prepare teachers to serve in the Armenian schools of the city and the province’s Armenian-populated villages. [71]

In its first school year, the school had an enrollment of 35 pupils. The school’s course of instruction spanned four years, and the curriculum included Armenian language, catechism, a foreign language (French or English), Turkish, general history (including the history of the Ottoman Empire) and classical literature, “engineering” (mathematics and geometry), geography, calligraphy, drawing, physical education, and musical education (singing) [72]. The school accepted any boy above the age of 13, either with a diploma from the Araradian Society elementary school or after passing an examination. [73]

The school employed a modern and advanced educational program and methods. It was the first school in Van that provided physical education; and also the first that offered regular classes in mathematics and natural sciences. [74]

The newly constructed building of the AGBU Normal School of Van, 1913 (Source: AGBU Nubarian Library, Paris).
The newly constructed building of the AGBU Normal School of Van, 1913 (Source: AGBU Nubarian Library, Paris).

The normal school’s faculty consisted of eight teachers, representing the cream of the crop of Van-Vasbouragan educators in the 1870s and 1880s. They included Mgrdich Portoukalian (headmaster of the school and superintendent of all schools in Van-Vasbouragan affiliated with the Araradian Society), Margos Natanian (deputy headmaster, as well as teacher of Armenian language and general history), Father Dionysius (teacher of catechism), Dikran Amirdjanian (teacher of French and Turkish), Melkon Batevian (teacher of mathematics and geometry), Khoren Khrimian (teacher of geography, calligraphy, drawing, and physical education), Boghos Natanian (teacher of music), and Apraham Koudretian (accountant). [75]

In 1881, the United Society declined to continue funding the school, and Mgrdich Portoukalian decided to run it with his own resources. He reorganized and renamed the institution as the Central School, which operated until 1885, at which point it was closed by order of the Ottoman authorities (for more details, see Van – Schools (First Part)). [76]

In the 1881-1882 school year, the school had an enrollment of 68 pupils, of whom 37 were enrolled in the primary classes (a course of instruction spanning two years), and 31 in the “academy” (the combined elementary and secondary school, with a course of instruction spanning four years). The faculty consisted of 16 teachers. [77]

The tuition fee for the primary school was 12 silver mejides per year, and the tuition fee for the “academy” was 20 silver mejides per year. A total of 21 pupils, whose families were indigent or who were orphans, were exempt from paying tuition fees. They were accepted into the school thanks to the intervention of Khrimian Hayrig, who promised to find philanthropists to sponsor these students, from Tbilisi if not from Van. [78]

The Normal/Central School played an important role in the educational life of Van in the 1880s. Gradually, other schools in the city began emulating the innovations introduced by this school, including the separation of grade levels, its organizational structure, the provision of individual desks for students, the provision of practical/hands-on classes, the concept of educational recesses, the concept of summer vacation, etc. [79]

The Yeramian School (1878-1915)

The Yeramian School was the preeminent Armenian school in Van-Vasbouragan. Throughout its years of operation (1878-1915), 3,000 pupils graduated from this school, including renowned intellectuals and community/political leaders. Many of these graduates were admitted into the Nersesian Lyceum of Tbilisi, the Echmiadzin Seminary, and the Lazarian Institute of Moscow. More than 100 alumni of the Yeramian School continued their studies in European universities and centers of learning. [80]

In the summer of 1878, two teachers from Van, Hampartsoum Yeramian (who was blind) and Dikran Amirdjanian, founded the Khnamadar [Caretaker] Society, which aimed to foster and educate orphaned boys in Van and prepare them for future service as teachers or clergymen. Thanks to the membership dues paid by the society’s members, as well as funds raised from philanthropists in Van, Constantinople, and abroad, more than 25 orphaned children and youth were sponsored by the group. The boys were placed under the care of local families and were educated at the Ghougasian School of the Saint Hagop neighborhood. [81] In 1880, the orphans were moved to the Garmravor Holy Virgin Monastery, located three kilometers from the city, where Van’s first Armenian orphanage was founded. [82]

The Khnamadar Society was dissolved in 1882. However, the society’s chairman and senior teacher, Hampartsoum Yeramian, moved its 25 wards to the Aykesdan district of Van, where he established a private school under his own leadership. The school also accepted day students. In the second half of the 1880s, the school transitioned to become a regular day school.

At first, the institution was known as “The School of the Armenian Orphanage of Van.” In 1903, on the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Khnamadar Society, the institution was officially renamed the Yeramian School. [83]

On the eve of the Armenian Genocide, Yeramian was a boys’ day school. Its educational plan and curriculum were based on those of national-parochial Armenian schools and Ottoman secondary schools. The curriculum was regularly updated and modernized. [84]

The school offered a two-tiered system of instruction, including the “primary” school, which offered basic education, and the “academy,” which offered mostly basic elementary/lower secondary instruction. The course of instruction in the primary school spanned four years, and in the “academy,” it spanned four years until 1885, five years from 1885 to 1900, and six years from 1900 to 1913. In the 1913-1914 school year, the school fully transitioned into a three-tiered system, with the course of instruction spanning 12 years (four years of primary schooling, six years of elementary schooling, and two years of secondary schooling). [85]

The school taught catechism and church history, classical and modern Armenian, Turkish (beginning in the fourth year of the primary school), French (beginning in the first year of the academy), Russian (beginning in the third year of the academy), Armenian/Ottoman/general history, geography, natural and exact sciences (in French and Turkish in the academy), political economy, ethics, basics of law and engineering, calligraphy, drawing, singing, and physical education. [86]

In the 1901-1902 school year, the school had an enrollment of 233 pupils, under the care of 12 teachers. [87]

In the 1912-1913 school year, the school had an enrollment of 366 pupils, of whom 171 were enrolled in the four classes of the primary school and 195 in the seven upper classes. A total of 304 pupils paid tuition fees, and 59 studied at no cost. Another three pupils received scholarship support. The faculty consisted of 19 teachers, of whom 15 were permanent and four were visiting teachers. [88]

On the eve of the Armenian Genocide, the school’s faculty included Dr. Levon Djingeoz (born in Trabzon and a graduate of the Padua medical school), Madteos Eblighatian (an attorney, born in Izmir), Avedik Der Kasbarian and Rafael Der Atamian (Armenian-Russian university graduates), Vrtanes Akhigian (born in Van; a painter), Khosrov Pakhchanian (a musician and a former student of Komitas), Aram Der Tovmasian (born in Van, a graduate of the Kevorkian seminary of Echmiadzin, later well-known Armenian satirist underthe pen-name Ler Kamsar), and others. [89]

The Yeramian School had the largest budget of any educational institution in Van. In the 1901-1902 school year, the school’s monthly income and expenses were 2,700 kurus, of which 1,800 came from tuition fees and 900 from donations. [90] In the 1912-1913 school year, the school’s yearly income was 99,368 kurus, of which 59,330 came from tuition fees, and the rest came from various endowments and donations. Two of the school’s largest donors were the council of the Saint Petersburg Armenian Church, which provided 12,464 kurus; and the Armenians of the Caucasus (thanks to the fundraising efforts organized by the renowned Armenian ethnographic scholar, Yervant Lalayants), who contributed 10,800 kurus. The school’s yearly expenditures totaled 124,447 kurus, of which 90,385 (or 73 percent) constituted the faculty’s wages. [91]

In the early 1910s, the Yeramian School had its own football team, which participated in various tournaments. [92]

The school was housed in its own two-story building, built in 1903-1904. The first floor was divided into 13 classrooms, while the second floor housed the events hall, a large performance area for theatrical events, as well as the library, the scientific museum, the teachers’ lounge, and the headmaster’s quarters. [93]

The Armenian General Benevolent Society (AGBU) Normal School of Van (1911-1915)

The AGBU Normal School of Van was opened on October 14, 1911, by the United Society of Armenians. [94] The Egypt chapter of the AGBU provided most of the funds that made up the institution’s budget. [95]

The Normal School provided a four-year course of instruction (lower junior, junior, senior, and upper senior). The school provided a) secondary education; b) pedagogical education (both theoretical and practical); and c) agricultural education. [96]

Students were taught catechism, Armenian, Turkish, French, Russian, mathematics (arithmetic, algebra, and geometry), natural sciences (geology, chemistry, biology, geography, electrical sciences, and agricultural sciences), general history, analytical Armenian history, Armenian classical literature, political economy, ethics, history of wisdom, music, drawing, crafts, physical education, pedagogy, psychology, school leadership, and history of pedagogy. [97]

The school accepted both paying and non-paying students. Yearly tuition cost four Ottoman pounds. Students who came from families that were unable to pay were exempt from tuition fees, specifically those who “displayed educational excellence, as well as a character that inspired confidence that they will become excellent teachers; and who agreed to teach for four years after graduation, with a guaranteed contract, in any school in any village or province, as assigned by the United Society.” [98]

In its first year of operation, the school’s headmaster/principal was Hovsep Kouyoumdjian. He was replaced in 1912 by Mikayel Minasian, the general director of the Garin chapter of the United Society. [99]

In the 1911-1912 school year, the school had an enrollment of 24 boys, under the care of five teachers. [100] In the 1914-1915 school year, the school’s enrollment reached 80, under the care of nine teachers (five permanent and four visiting). [101]

The Protestant Schools of Van

Van was one of the most important centers of activity for American Protestant missionaries in Western Armenia (for more on the American Protestant mission to Van, see www.houshamadyan.org/mapottomanempire/vilayet-of-van/kaza-of-van/religion/churches-and-monasteries-1.html).

The first American Protestant (boys’) school was founded immediately after the establishment of Van’s Protestant mission in 1872-1873. In 1882, the Protestant mission also opened a girls’ school, which also had a boarders’ section. [102] After 1896, a Protestant coeducational orphanage also operated in Van. [103]

In 1899, the American Protestant schools and orphanages in Van had a total enrollment of 900 pupils/wards. [104]

According to figures from 1899, the following American Protestant institutions operated in Van:

  • 1) A boys’ school with an enrollment of 135 pupils and seven permanent/four visiting teachers.
  • 2) A boys’ orphanage with 200 wards and four teachers.
  • 3) A girls’ school with an enrollment of 300 pupils and eight permanent/five visiting teachers of both sexes.
  • 4) A girls’ orphanage with 180 wards and seven teachers.
  • 5) A coeducational kindergarten with an enrollment of 40 pupils and four teachers.
  • 6) The girls’ school in downtown Van, with an enrollment of 70 pupils and five male and female teachers. [105]

As such, total enrollment in the American Protestant schools of Van was 825 pupils, under the care of 44 teachers (the actual number of permanent teachers was lower, as some served as visiting teachers in more than one school).

According to figures from 1910, enrollment in the American Protestant coeducational school of Van was 575 pupils, under the care of 16 teachers. The school’s curriculum placed emphasis to the preparation of teachers to work in village schools, as this was considered a crucial aspect of the missionaries’ work. [106]

According to a contemporary chronicler, the presence of the Protestant schools in Van fostered competition between them and the city’s Armenian-Apostolic “national” schools. The Protestant schools forced the locals to face the fact “that their so-called schools were in an unenviable state.” [107] The author also observed that “The missionaries, thanks to their access to greater financial resources than the city’s parochial schools, were able to provide free education to thousands of indigent Armenian children.” [108]

In 1908, the German Protestant mission separated from the American Protestant mission. The German mission opened one boys’ and one girls’ school/orphanage, each with an eight-year course of instruction. In their early years of operation, the schools had an enrollment of 270 pupils, of whom 220 were orphans, under the care of 18 teachers. [109]

According to figures from 1913, enrollment in the two German schools/orphanages was 235 pupils of both sexes, under the care of 11 teachers. [110]

The German mission and institutions operated under the aegis of the Deutschen Hilfsbundes für Christliches Liebeswerk im Orient (The German Relief Society for Christian Benevolence in the Orient). [111]

A new school building was built on the premises of the German orphanage in 1913. [112]

The Catholic Schools of Van

As one of the main Armenian population centers in Western Armenia, Van was targeted by Roman Catholic missionaries and preachers. Among the most active Catholic groups in Van was the Dominican Order.

The Dominican Mission in Van was founded in 1881 by Father Jacques Rhétoré, at a time when Western Armenia was experiencing the famine caused by the Russo-Turkish War. The mission’s initial goal was to provide aid to the local Armenian and Christian population. [113] The Dominicans substantially expanded their activities after the Hamidian massacres, when they opened a boarding house for Armenian children who had become orphaned. It was at this time that alongside the Dominican Brothers, the Dominican Sisters also became active in Van, assuming responsibility for the management of girls’ schools and boarding schools. [114]

The Dominicans founded a coeducational boarding school in the Glor-Tar neighborhood of Van, which provided shelter to 300 children; and another in the Ayichoghlou district (enrollment of 130 pupils). The Dominicans also opened a girls’ school, with an enrollment of more than 300 pupils. [115]

In 1899, enrollment at the Puzantian Catholic Girls’ School of Van (previously the Hovhanness Puzantian Private School) was 200. [116]

According to figures from 1903, in that year, Van was home to one kindergarten operated by the French Dominicans, two orphanages (one boys’ and one girls’), two private schools (one boys’ and one girls’), as well as two coeducational schools. These institutions’ combined enrollment stood at 917 pupils, under the care and tutelage of 31 teachers. [117]

Dominican schools were also opened in Armenian-populated villages in the environs of the city. However, these schools were rejected by the local population and closed within a year or two, as alongside academic instruction, the Dominicans also proselytized and made attempts to convert the pupils to Catholicism. [118]

The buildings and structures owned by the Catholic Dominican Order in Van, 1900s (Source: Mekhitarist Order, San Lazzaro, Venice).
The buildings and structures owned by the Catholic Dominican Order in Van (Source: Henry Binder, Au Kurdistan, en Mésopotamie et en Perse, Paris, 1887).
The buildings and structures owned by the Catholic Dominican Order in Van (Source: P. Müller-Simonis, Du Caucase au Golfe Persique, à travers l’Arménie, le Kurdistan et la Mésopotamie, Washington D.C., 1892).
The buildings and structures owned by the Catholic Dominican Order in Van (Source: Henry Binder, Au Kurdistan, en Mésopotamie et en Perse, Paris, 1887).

The wards of the Dominican orphanages in Van also periodically protested of being forced to convert to Catholicism and participate in Catholic rites. In 1903, Hovhannes Kalandjian, a teacher at the Dominican school of downtown Van, resigned due to his dissatisfaction with the “anti-Armenian orientation” of the school. He also appealed to the Prelacy of Van and succeeded in having the 50 Armenian pupils of the school transferred to the Hisousian School, where they were gladly welcomed. [119]

Despite the dissatisfaction of the local Armenian population, Dominican schools continued operating in Van until the Armenian Genocide. According to figures from 1913, the following four Dominican schools were operating in the city:

  • The S. Puzantian Girls’ School (previously the Hovhannes Puzantian Private School): The school had nine grade levels and an enrollment of 230 pupils. Faculty consisted of 12 teachers, including four sisters of the Dominican Order. The school also had a coeducational kindergarten with a two-year course of instruction and an enrollment of 120 pupils, of whom 90 were girls.
  • The Boys’ School: The school was housed in a residential building owned by the Dominican Order. It had six grade levels and an enrollment of 140 pupils, including eight boarders. The faculty consisted of nine teachers, of whom four were members of the Dominican Order, and five were Armenian laymen (three of whom were Catholic).
  • The Ayichoghlou Neighborhood School: The school had four grade levels.It hadan enrollment of 70 pupils and a faculty of two teachers.
  • The Coeducational School of the Glor-Tar Neighborhood: The school had four grade levels. It had an enrollment of 110 pupils (40 male and 70 female), and a faculty consisting of three teachers. [120]

All Dominican schools in Van provided free tuition. The Puzantian School also accepted fee-paying students.

Van. The graduates of the American school. Additional information on this photograph is not available (Source: Barry Dukes collection).

  1. [1] K. Sherents, Srpavayrer. Deghakroutyun Vasbouragani-Vana Nahanki Klkhavor Yegeghetsyats, Vanoreyits yev Ousoumnasirats [Holy Sites. Geography of the Main Churches, Monasteries, and Seminaries of the Vasbouragan-Van Province], Tbilisi, 1902, p. 24.
  2. [2] Ibid., p. 26.
  3. [3] Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” Mourdj Monthly, Tbilisi, 1904, number 10, p. 45.
  4. [4] Sherents, Srpavayrer…, pp. 25.
  5. [5] H. Pakrouni, “Armenian Schools in Van, II,” Ashkhadank Weekly, Van, 20 Oct. 1913, number 49-145, p. 8.
  6. [6] Ibid.
  7. [7] Sherents, Srpavayrer…, pp. 19, 27.
  8. [8] Vanig, “The City of Van: Geographic and Economic Survey,” Puragn, Constantinople, 29 Sep. 1899, number 38-39, p. 609.
  9. [9] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo. Badrasdyal Housoumnagan Khorhrto Azkayin Gentronagan Varchoutyan. Dedr B., Vidjag 1901-1902 Darvo [Report on the Provincial National Schools of Turkey. Prepared by the Educational Council of the Armenian National Committee. Second Book, Situation in the Year 1901-1902], Constantinople, H. Madteosian Press, 1903, p. 10.
  10. [10] Mars, “Our Schools. Yearly Report,” Ashkhadank Weekly, Van, 20 Aug. 1911, number 29, p. 6.
  11. [11] Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 45.
  12. [12] Ibid.; Levonian, “Schooling and Printing in Van, I,” p. 451.
  13. [13] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schools in Van, II,” p.8.
  14. [14] Ibid.
  15. [15] Vanig, “The City of Van,” p. 609.
  16. [16] A reporter, “Survey of the General Schools of Van,” Puzantion (Constantinople), 15 (28) Apr. 1903, number 1997, p. 1.
  17. [17] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  18. [18] Mars, “Our Schools. Yearly Report,” pp. 5-6.
  19. [19] Sherents, Srpavayrer, pp. 33-34.
  20. [20] Ibid., p. 34.
  21. [21] Levonian, “Schooling and Printing in Van, I,” p. 451; Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 45.
  22. [22] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schools in Van, II,” p. 9.
  23. [23] Ibid., pp. 8-9.
  24. [24] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  25. [25] Mars, “Our Schools. Yearly Report,” p. 6.
  26. [26] “Commemoration in Memory of the Dearly Departed Patriarch Father Nerses,” Masis Weekly, Constantinople, 22 Dec. 1884, number 3749, p. 512.
  27. [27] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schools in Van, II,” p. 9.
  28. [28] Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 45.
  29. [29] Levonian, “Schooling and Printing in Van, II,” p. 451.
  30. [30] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schools in Van, III,” Ashkhadank Weekly, 2 Nov. 1913, number 1-147, p. 6.
  31. [31] Der Mgrdchian, “Educational Life in Van Today,” p. 62.
  32. [32] Ibid.
  33. [33] Vanig, “The City of Van,” p. 609.
  34. [34] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  35. [35] Mars, “Our Schools. Yearly Report,” p. 6.
  36. [36] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schooling in Van, III,” p. 6.
  37. [37] Sherents, Srpavayrer…, p. 36; Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 45. Father Mesrob Papazian was one of the renowned clerical and educational figures in Van. For his biography, see Mgrdchian, Kantser Vasbouragani [Treasures of Vasbouragan], pp. 244-248.
  38. [38] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schooling in Van, III,” p. 6; Der Mgrdchian, “Educational Life in Van Today,” p. 62.
  39. [39] Levonian, “Schooling and Printing in Van, II,” p. 451.
  40. [40] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  41. [41] A-To, Vani, Bitlisi, yev Erzroumi Vilayetneru [The Vilayets of Van, Bitlis, and Erzurum], Yerevan, “Cultura” Printing House, 1912, p. 19.
  42. [42] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  43. [43] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schooling in Van, III,” p. 6.
  44. [44] Selcuk Aksin Somel, The Modernization of Public Education in the Ottoman Empire, 1839-1908: Islamization, Autocracy, and Discipline, Brill, Leiden-Boston-Koln, 2001, p. 146.
  45. [45] Asbed, “How the Government Allocates the Educational Budget,” Ashkhadank Weekly, 7 Sep. 1913, number 43-139, p. 2.
  46. [46] Levonian, “Schooling and Printing in Van, II,” p. 451.
  47. [47] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schooling in Van, III,” p. 6.
  48. [48] Ibid.
  49. [49] Ibid.
  50. [50] A-To, Vani, Bitlisi, yev Erzroumi Vilayetneru, p. 19.
  51. [51] Pakrouni, “Armenian Schooling in Van, IV,” Ashkhadank Weekly, Van, 21 Dec. 1913, number 8-154, p. 4.
  52. [52] A. Pendous, “From the Horizon of Vasbouragan. The Status of National Schools,” Mshag, Tbilisi, 29 Jun. 1913, number 141, p. 2.
  53. [53] Ibid. Krikor Andonian-Sereprenikov was a Romanian-Armenian, who had moved to the Russian Empire in 1887 and had settled in the city of Odessa. In 1902, he deposited an endowment of 40,000 rubles in the Imperial Bank of Odessa. The lion’s share of the yearly interest generated by this sum (approximately 60 Ottoman Pounds), by the suggestion of the Holy See of Echmiadzin, was donated to the Santkhdian and Central schools of Van (Puragn, Constantinople, 14 May 1905, number 20, p. 398.
  54. [54] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  55. [55] A-To, Vani, Bitlisi, yev Erzroumi Vilayetneru, p. 19.
  56. [56] Mars, “Our Schools, a One-Year Report,” Ashkhadank Weekly, Van, 20 Aug. 1911, number 29, p. 5.
  57. [57] “Two Words and an Appeal Regarding the Santkhdian,” Ashkhadank Weekly, Van, 17 Aug. 1913, number 40-136, p. 5.
  58. [58] Der Mgrdchian, Kantser Vasbouragani, p. 570.
  59. [59] Ibid.
  60. [60] K. Adjemian (Vanetsi), “The Central School of Van,” Ararad, Vagharshabad, September 1904, p. 762.
  61. [61] Ibid.
  62. [62] Der Mgrdchian, Kantser Vasbouragani, p. 571.
  63. [63] K. Adjemian (Vanetsi), “The Central School of Van,” p. 762.
  64. [64] A reporter, “Survey of the General Schools of Van,” p. 1.
  65. [65] Mars, “Our Schools, a One-Year Report,” p. 5.
  66. [66] Adjemian (Vanetsi), “The Central School of Van,” p. 762.
  67. [67] Der Mgrdchian, Kantser Vasbouragani, p. 570.
  68. [68] Ibid.
  69. [69] Krouzian, “The Intellectual Renaissance of Vasbouragan,” p. 201.
  70. [70] Natanian, “M. Portoukalian’s Educational and Community Work in Van,” p. 190.
  71. [71] Boghosian, Vasbouragani Badmoutyunits, pp. 306-307.
  72. [72] Araradian Ungeroutyun, Hasdadyal i 15 Abril 1876, C. Deghegakir 1878-1879 Ami [Araradian Society, Founded on April 15, 1876, Third Report of the Year 1878-1879], Constantinople, B. Kirishdjian Printing House, pp. 12.
  73. [73] Ibid.
  74. [74] Kh. Levonian, “Schooling and Printing in Van, II,” p. 486.
  75. [75] Araradian Ungeroutyun, C. Deghegakir 1878-1879 Ami…, pp. 12-13.
  76. [76] Natanian, “M. Portoukalian’s Educational and Community Work,” p. 192; Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 47.
  77. [77] Artsakank Weekly, Tbilisi, 6 Jun. 1882, number 16, p. 244.
  78. [78] Ibid., p. 245.
  79. [79] Natanian, “M. Portoukalian’s Educational and Community Work,” p. 190.
  80. [80] Shoghig Vosganian, “The Yeramian School of Van on the Eve of the Genocide,” Mangavarjagan yev Hokepanoutyan Himnakhntirner. Michpouhagan Consortsiumi Kidagan Hantes 1 [Fundamental Issues of Pedagogy and Psychology. Scientific Review of the Inter-Collegiate Consortium, 1], Yerevan, 2014, p. 111.
  81. [81] Vani Yeramian Varjaranu [The Yeramian School of Van], Constantinople, 1914, p. 3.
  82. [82] Ibid., p. 4; Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 47.
  83. [83] Vani Yeramian Varjaranu, p. 4; Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXIV, the City of Van,” p. 47.
  84. [84] Vani Yeramian Varjaranu, p. 27.
  85. [85] Ibid.
  86. [86] Ibid., pp. 27-28.
  87. [87] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  88. [88] “Yearly Report of the Yeramian School. 35th Year (August 1912-August 1913),” Hovid Weekly, Tbilisi, 8 Sep. 1913, number 35, p. 558.
  89. [89] Yeramian, Houshartsan…, Volume B, p. 191.
  90. [90] Vidjagatsouyts Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Tourkyo…, p. 10.
  91. [91] “Yearly Report of the Yeramian School…” p. 559.
  92. [92] Van-Dosb, Van, 5 Jul. 1914, number 26, p. 315.
  93. [93] Ibid.
  94. [94] Miyatsial Ungeroutyun Hayots (1880-1908), Yeramya Deghegakir. 21 Okosdos 1908-1911 Okosdos 31 [United Society of Armenians (1880-1908), Three-Year Report. August 21, 1908-August 31, 1911], Constantinople, 1912, p. 67.
  95. [95] Ibid.
  96. [96] Shoghig Vosganian, Ourvakdzer Arevmdahay Tbrotsi yev Mangavarjagan Mdki Badmoutyan (1850-1920) [Outlines of the History of Western Armenian Schooling and Pedagogical Thinking (1850-1920)], Yerevan, 2009, p. 130.
  97. [97] Ibid.
  98. [98] “The Normal School. Third Academic Year,” Van-Dosb Weekly, Van, 10 Aug. 1913, number 29, p. 347.
  99. [99] Miyatsial Ungeroutyun Hayots (1880-1908), Yeramya Deghegakir…, p. 10.
  100. [100] Ibid., p. 107.
  101. [101] Krouzian, “The Intellectual Renaissance of Vasbouragan,” p. 203; Chitouni, As ou Lis Hayasdani, Constantinople, 1920, p. 92.
  102. [102] G. B. Adanalian, Houshartsan Hay Avedaranaganats yev Avedaranagan Yegeghetsvo (Knnagan Dzanotoutyunnerov) [Memorial to Armenian Evangelicals and the Evangelical Church (with Analytical Notes)], Fresno, 1952, pp. 472-474.
  103. [103] Ibid.
  104. [104] Vanig, “The City of Van,” pp. 608-609.
  105. [105] A reporter, “Survey of the General Schools of Van,” p. 1.
  106. [106] Survey of the Work of the American Board in Turkey. Reprinted of the “Orient” of July 6, 1910, Bible House, Constantinople (Turkey), 1910, p. 12.
  107. [107] Dzeroug, “The Province of Van Today, XXV,” Mourdj, number 12, p. 61.
  108. [108] Ibid.
  109. [109] Haroutyunian, “From the History of the Schools and Orphanages of Van-Vasbouragan,” p. 47.
  110. [110] Hans-Lukas Kieser, Der verpasste Friede. Mission, Ethnie und Staat in den Ostprovinzen der Türkei 1839-1938, Chronos, Zurich, 2000, p. 227.
  111. [111] Ibid., p. 440.
  112. [112] Ibid.
  113. [113] A. Arisian, “Dominican Schools in Van,” Ashkhadank Weekly, Van, 16 Jul. 1913, number 34, p. 4; Kieser, Der Verpasste Friede…, p. 224.
  114. [114] Ibid.
  115. [115] Arisian, “Dominican Schools in Van,” p. 4.
  116. [116] Vanig, “The City of Van,” p. 609.
  117. [117] A reporter, “A Survey of the General Schools in Van,” p. 1.
  118. [118] Arisian, “Dominican Schools in Van,” p. 4.
  119. [119] Ibid., p. 5.
  120. [120] Ibid.
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