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Batoum


History    EN GR RU

Author: TCHKOIDZE ΕΚΑ

During the Ottoman rule the only schools operating in the area were those in the mosques dealing exclusively with the study of the Koran. These schools were called “Madrasa” or “Medrese” (word of Arabic origin). In the entire Oblast of Batumi were 207 Madrasa.[1]

There was not a single public school either in Batumi or in the wider area.[2] A. Frenkel was the first to point out that the only “European school”[3] which was operating in Batumi before the accession to the Czarist empire was the Greek school founded in 1861.[4] This information was later questioned since it was a parochial school which could not be regarded as the first public school.[5] However has prevailed the view that the Greek school should be considered as the first to open in Batumi.[6]

Frenkel gives some information about the organization of Muslim schools. In every mosque a school functions which deals, as mentioned above, with the study of the Koran. However, the students were often illiterate.[7] This was because attendance was in Arabic language incomprehensible to the inhabitants. That is why students learned the prayers by heart without understanding the meaning.[8]

The first effort to establish a public school belongs to the Russian deputy consul Djudichi, active in Batumi before and after the reintegration, who had bought 12 lots and had donated them for the needs of the construction of the school but without reaching the goal.[9]

The Greek school, mentioned earlier, was housed in a building next to the Greek Church[10] and was consisted of only two rooms.[11] In 1879 this school had 40 students and only one teacher who was paid by the wealthy parents of some students. The school supervisor was a priest of the Greek Church and the program of the teaching subject was written in Greek.[12]

After the reintegration of the area in Georgia the first objective set by the intellectual Georgians was the ideological approach of the population in order not to feel alienated and isolated from the rest of Georgia (because of the religious difference as well). The most effective means to achieve this goal was considered the support and the promotion of Georgian language, the strongest element that connected locals with the rest of Georgians. This required the establishment of Georgian schools,[13] as those founded by the official authorities were Russian. The first Georgian school of the city (and of the area) opened on March the 23rd of 1881 (hereunder school No 6). It was the initiative of the Association for the Promotion of Literature among the Georgians (in Georgian …..).[14] This momentous event was honored by the same Ilia Chavchavadze[15] from Tbilisi, who gave a speech. The association rented for 240 rubles a building consisting of 3 rooms. The number of the first students was 28 of which 11 were Muslims (10 boys and a girl).[16] There was only one class and the attendance lasted 2 years. The following subjects were taught: Georgian language, Russian language, religion, calligraphy, arithmetic, gymnastics and chanting. A. Naneishvili was appointed as the first teacher of the school.[17] Due to various donations this school in 1895 acquired a one-storey building.

The same year (1881) a Russian elementary school opened with 3 years attendance, which became 6 years in 1886[18] (in the following list No 3).

It is worth standing on the issue of female schools. It is an area which for 300 years has been a Muslim administrative unit of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, traditions in certain issues were the same. Women from the age of 12 years old were obliged to wear yashmak and they were not educated. However, no girls were illiterate. They received education at home keeping in this way Georgian as their native language.[19]

The Czarist authorities from the beginning wanted to open a school for girls in the area and they handled the issue discreetly studying initially some controversial issues. Finally the first female school opened in 1886[20] and for many years it was housed in various buildings until the acquisition of its own building.[21]

The locals gave a great battle in order to open the first high school in the city.[22] The struggle began in 1893 and it took 4 years to achieve the goal.[23] On the 26th-27th of June of 1897 the municipality of the city granted a coastal area of 2623.95 square meters for the Boys’ High School. The design of the building was entrusted to the military engineer Sedelnikov.[24] On the first floor of the two-storey building a gym was housed, while on the second a church, an auditorium, 8 art classes, a class for physics, a lab and a library.

The High School started operating from the 1st of July of 1897, while a particularly brilliant opening ceremony took place a bit later, on the 14th of September of that year.[25] In the place of the headmaster was appointed the former headmaster of Kutaisi, A. I. Stoyanov.[26] The following subjects were taught: religion, grammar of the Russian language, rhetoric, poetry, mathematics, geography, history, physics, law, agricultural science, secular architecture, foreign language and Latin, Georgian language, calligraphy, design, composition and more.[27] They accepted children of 8 years old and the attendance was in Russian.[28] In Batumi and in other schools of the wider area were coming teachers and masters, mainly from western Georgia, with enthusiasm and willingness.[29] That is why the area had never lack of staff. It was mainly the lack of resources and the complicated bureaucratic system of Czarist Russia that created problems.

The same difficulties arose in the case of the founding of a high school for girls as well. The above mentioned school for girls in 1900, was converted into a high school which for the year 1906 was the most recent that had opened in Caucasus.[30]

Almost instantly with schools and high schools in Batumi appeared the professional schools as well. Such a school opened for the first time in October of 1889 (see in the following list of schools under number 5) and played an important role in the development of industry in the area.[31]

In 1912 the city authorities raised the issue of the establishment of the Pedagogical Institute in Batumi but the proposal was rejected by the central authority.[32]

Finally, it is worth noting that after 1914 among the 23 schools listed in Batumi, 4 are Armenian, 3 are Greek, 2 Muslim, one Jewish and one Polish. The rest are Russian and Georgian.[33]

 


[1] (1877-1920) (= “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”), 4 vol. edition, 3rd. vol., (“The province of Batumi during 1877-1920”), Batumi 2008, p. 531 (then: “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”).

[2] (= “Batumi and its surroundings”), Batumi 1906, p. 588.

[3] Obviously by “European school” means “secular” or “public” school.

[4] (A. Frenkel), (= “Essays on Churuk-Su and Batumi”), Tbilisi 1879, p. 85.

[5] P. 588.

[6] T. Komakhidze mentions it as No 1. (= “Topics of the history of education and culture of the city of Batumi”), (1st book), Batumi 1996, p.10.

[7] (A. Frenkel), p. 85. At this point (pp.85-86) the author gives interesting information on the Turkish stationery used at that time.

[8] (T. Komakhidze), (= “Topics of the history of education and culture of the city of Batumi”), (1st book), Batumi 1996, p. 3. These schools consisted of three stages and in Batumi were in function only two. The third stage that could be compared to the level of the high school of that period did not exist in the wider area. (Gr. Babilodze), (“Education development in Adjara”), Batumi 1979, p. 62.

[9] (A. Frenkel), p. 588. It is never mentioned exactly when happened. However, it is clear that is about the beginning of the 1870s.

[10] Today stands on the street of Parnavaz mepe.

[11] In the Greek school is mentioned E. G. Weidenbaum who visited the city in 1878. See (Caucasian essays), (article “From Batumi to Artvin), Tbilisi, 1901, p.101.

[12] P. 589.

[13] This was indeed the main demand of the Adjarian delegation which arrived in Tbilisi immediately after the release. See the speech given by Sh. Khimshiashvili, an activist of Adjara in favor of the reunification with Georgia, in the special reception held in the Georgian capital. See the newspaper Droeba, # 6 1978, issue 126.

[14] It comes to the very important educational and cultural association that was founded in 1879 in Tbilisi. The association brought together all the leading Georgian intellectuals of the time, whose main concern was to make basic education accessible to all layers of Georgian society and to fight illiteracy even in the more remote highland areas. The association organized various charity events (concerts, performances etc.) in order to collect the amounts needed. The association was in operation till 1923 and played a catalytic role in the development of education throughout Georgia. Stephen F. Jones, Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917, Harvard University Press, 2005, p. 37. D. M. Lang, A Modern History Of Georgia, London, 1962, p. 109.

[15] “Father” of the Georgian nation, commonly known only by his first name Ilia, he lived in the years between 1837 and 1907. He is a writer, poet, founder and newspapers’ editor, a lawyer and the most important political player of the time in Georgia. He influenced every sector of the political and public life. After the reintegration he visited 3 times Adjara and supported in his own unique way the population of the area. In his newspaper (Iveria) in February of 1879 # 10 he appealed to all Georgians to raise awareness and help the residents of Adjara materially. The plea left nobody indifferent.

[16] This is the first Muslim Georgian written in the first Georgian school of the city. Her name was Ulvie, daughter of the local lord Husein-Beg Abashidze. This caused a great discomfort to the local community but no one dared to speak openly since her father enjoyed a great prestige. (T. Komakhidze), (= History of the development of medical centers and of the network of resorts in the city of Batumi), p. 152. Locals were afraid that attending either the Georgian or the Russian school the integrity of their faith might be threatened.

[17] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 533.

[18] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p.534.

[19] (= History of the development of medical centers and of the network of resorts in the city of Batumi), Batumi 1997, p. 151.

[20] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 534.

[21] See in details, p. 593-594. It’s about school No 4 in the following list.

[22] The mayor himself, L. Asatiani, was forced to visit St. Petersburg to get the approval of the central authority. “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 536.

[23] The main reason for such a delay was almost always the “discrepancy” between the local authorities (Batumi-Kutaisi-Tbilisi) and the central (St. Petersburg), which had mostly an economic character (meaning that the central government didn’t agree to spend as much money as the local authorities required).

[24] Additional information about the first High School for Boys is available on the website of the State University Shota Rustaveli of Batumi http://www.bsu.edu.ge/index.php?lang=en

[25] Today, inside the same building, is housed the State University Shota Rustaveli of Batumi.

[26] P. 601.

[27] Indicative teaching hours of certain teaching subjects every month: Russian language – 30 hours (the majority), arithmetic – 15, Georgian language 9. “Essays on the history of the Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 537.

[28] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 535.

[29] As above, p. 537.

[30] P. 611.

[31] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia, Adjara”, p. 536.

[32] Ibid, p. 537. The Pedagogical Institute finally opened in 1923 (see details in http//www.bsu.edu.ge/index.php?lang=en).

[33] (T. Komakhidze), (= Topics of the history of education and culture of the city of Batumi (1st book), Batumi 1996, p. 11. The analytical expenses about all schools and high schools of the city per year for the period between 1888 and 1904 are available in the book “……..” (pp. 615-617).


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