“Girls Are Also People of the Holy Qur’an”

Girls’ Schools and Female Teachers in Pre-Tanzimat Istanbul

In: Hawwa
Author: Jun Akiba1
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  • 1 Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo

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Abstract

This article focuses on Muslim girls’ education in Ottoman Istanbul during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Through the extensive use of archival and narrative sources, it demonstrates that girls in pre-Tanzimat Istanbul enjoyed ample opportunities for elementary education. Two registers of the distribution of imperial gifts to schools in Istanbul, one in the 1780s and the other in 1811, reveal the existence of a substantial number of girls’ schools run by female teachers. Many of these schools presumably operated in teachers’ private homes, but there were also vakıf-funded girls’ schools. Additionally, girls benefited from coeducational schools. Drawing on these findings, I estimate that, in 1811, approximately one-fifth of the girls living in Istanbul received elementary schooling, and that there were about 100 female teachers in Istanbul. The increasing visibility of girls’ schools and female teachers can be considered in the context of social change in the eighteenth century.

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