Tevfik Ileri: The architect of contemporary education in Turkey

Dorothy S. Bass

Strategies of training and content material of instruction at educational facilities have long posed a problem for Turkish modernization. From preliminary makes an attempt by Ottoman officials of the 19th century to create modern day educational facilities encouraged by Europe to the most current interpretations of educational courses in the general public schools of today, both political get-togethers and mental circles have been eaten in an exhausting struggle to decide the most effective orientation for schoolchildren. It is certainly a political fight with huge references to faith and secularism.

This battle raised a dilemma, does academic modernization call for complete secularization, which means that all spiritual written content is swept from school programs, or must faith continue to be on the syllabus? Late Ottoman officers discovered methods to allow for equally religion and science to be taught collectively – particularly the normal sciences. For case in point, they did not close the classical Quran educational facilities regarded as “mahalle mektepleri” when establishing semi-secular elementary schools. These educational institutions were being semi-secular as their curriculum bundled some spiritual content material. On the other hand, the early Republican technique to education and learning known as for the full exclusion of religion and even tried to suppress religion by instructing schoolchildren that religion is an obstacle to progress. This direct to silent rejection of secular educational institutions and the development of solution Quran educational institutions which ended up run for a long time right up until the Democrat Celebration (DP) took ability in 1950.

An old photo of Tevfik Ileri (L) with his wife Vasfiye Ileri. (Archive Photo)
An outdated picture of Tevfik Ileri (L) with his wife Vasfiye Ileri. (Archive Picture)

The DP pledged to revive faith and restore religious honor nonetheless, they were being unable to have out an academic revolution as their predecessors did. The DP govt experienced to uncover an additional way to shield the benefits of modern-day schooling whilst meeting the spiritual wants of the people today. Who would do that in the first put? As a final result, then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes appointed an engineer with a spiritual track record and cultural pursuits as the new minister of schooling. That male was Tevfik Ileri.

Early lifestyle

Ileri was born in 1911 in the Hemşin district of northeastern Rize. His father Hafız Celal Bey was a spiritual scholar whilst his mother Fatma Hanım was a housewife. Celal Bey’s relatives was acknowledged as the “Imamoğulları” (Sons of Imams) in their hometown.

Ileri went to school in Istanbul soon after his loved ones moved to the metropolis as the country faced financial hardships triggered by Entire world War I. Instances had been so tough that Celal Bey was unable to go to Istanbul just after sending his wife and 3 little ones, Tevfik, Ömer and Saadet and the relatives experienced to dwell away from their father for a several a long time. The good news is, the little ones were being lucky adequate to have their grandfather, a retired civil governor living in Istanbul’s Fatih.

Tevfik helped his loved ones by selling cigarette papers to smokers after school when he was attending Gelenbevi Middle College. Following middle school, Tevfik and his elder brother Ömer handed the examination to show up at a mining school but never ever enrolled as their mom did not want her sons to turn out to be miners. Subsequent a two-12 months gap, in 1927 Tevfik was admitted to the Istanbul Higher College of Engineering, today’s Istanbul Technical University (ITÜ). The accomplishment demonstrated the youthful man’s talent as he secured a position at the university without having owning obtained a large college instruction.

Civil engineer

Ileri graduated from the Istanbul Greater University of Engineering in 1933 and grew to become a control engineer at the Normal Directorate of Highways in Erzurum, japanese Turkey. He also taught arithmetic at educational institutions in his spare time. He even tried out to leave engineering and grow to be a full-time teacher however, the provincial director of education and learning in Erzurum prevented this from going on, informing him that Turkey desired much more engineers than instructors.

In the exact same year, Ileri married Vasfiye Hanım, the daughter of household friends in Hemşin. Their fathers have been near friends, and the two arranged a day for their young children to get married in Istanbul. Tevfik and Vasfiye missing their very first kid when it was only 40 days aged. In later on a long time, they had three young children named Cahide, Ayşe and Cahit.

An old wedding photo shows Tevfik Ileri (R) and Vasfiye Ileri. (Archive Photo)
An previous wedding day picture shows Tevfik Ileri (R) and Vasfiye Ileri. (Archive Picture)

Ileri labored as the regional manager of General public Development Will work in northwestern Çanakkale (1937-1942) and northern Samsun provinces (1942-1950). He was the founding manager of the 7th Streets Area responsible for the roadways in 4 provinces which include Samsun, Çorum, Sinop, Amasya and Tokat.


Ileri was a incredibly enthusiastic young person. He was a organic-born orator and politician. Even right before getting to be an official politician, he was presently politically inclined, participating in student protests around smaller and major matters, which include lousy meals in the cafeteria, petitioning Istanbul Radio to broadcast the Nationwide Anthem on a each day basis, requesting a monument to honor the heroism of the Turkish soldiers in the Gallipoli War and protesting Bulgaria’s suppression of its Turkish minority. He was arrested with the board customers of the Countrywide Union of Turkish Learners (MTTB) for the Bulgarian incident. The good news is, then-president, Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk sent a specific telegram that aided in the launch of the young adult males.

Ileri’s nationalism and religious lifestyle went hand-in-hand. In excess of the system of the 1930s and 1940s, right-wing politicians stood together in get to strengthen their opposition towards the iron rule of the People’s Republican Social gathering (CHP). The only occasion formally permitted was CHP and all other political organizations experienced to work, or at least look like they were being doing the job, under the single-bash method. Ileri refused to develop into a member of Parliament in the course of CHP’s rule has he did not approve of the party’s policies, specifically when it arrived to ideological and cultural issues. He waited until other democratic events were being allowed to operate for electric power.

Ileri entered Parliament as a delegate from Samsun, exactly where he was functioning as the local manager of Public Building Functions. Adnan Menderes, the to start with democratically elected primary minister of Turkey, assigned Ileri as his 1st minister of transportation. Nonetheless, immediately after a short time, he was reassigned as the performing minister of training as the authorities observed a determined have to have to increase the spot, demonstrating Menderes’ great confidence in Ileri. Menderes’ govt relied on Ileri as a minister politically, much too. Ileri was predicted to crack as a result of to the new generation of students to defend them from “hazardous” ideologies like communism. As a minister, he instantly took action against the extraordinary left within his ministry, even though ironically he was accused by Falih Rıfkı Atay, a journalist renowned for his shut romance with Atatürk, of becoming a communist in his youth. Ileri naturally refused the claims and countless numbers of college learners supported the minister by signing an open petition.

An old photo shows (L-R) Tevfik Ileri, his daughters Cahide and Ayşe, his wife Vasfiye and his son Cahit in the middle. (Archive Photo)
An outdated photograph exhibits (L-R) Tevfik Ileri, his daughters Cahide and Ayşe, his wife Vasfiye and his son Cahit in the center. (Archive Photograph)

Ileri’s function as a minister of education and learning was excellent. He opened the imam-hatip superior universities, which have a curriculum centered on theological lessons, which CHP retained closed for decades. These schools are nonetheless regarded his legacy by Muslims nowadays. Though the universities were being an crucial ideological stage, Ileri’s reorganization at his ministry was even much more critical for bureaucracy. He managed to reorganize the Ministry of Instruction to do the job in cohesion and coordination with all its pieces all-around the place. He also experimented with to enhance the role of the Training Congress and establish democratic administration at the ministry.

Ileri founded the first college of theology, the Istanbul Bigger Institute of Islam. He also supported the foundation of two new universities, the Atatürk University in japanese Erzurum province and the Center East Specialized University in the capital Ankara.

Right after the Might 27, 1960, military services coup, Ileri was arrested with each other with hundreds of DP officers and imprisoned on the Yassıada island. He was initially sentenced to demise right before his sentence was improved to everyday living in jail. He died on Dec. 31, 1961, from cancer at the Ankara Medical center and he is buried at the Cebeci Fashionable Cemetery. There are several colleges and streets in many metropolitan areas such as Istanbul, Ankara and Rize named just after him.

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