Operating since 1873, Darüşşafaka Schools, the first private school to have been established by a non-governmental organization, have been providing an 8-year education from the 5th grade to high school graduation with a full scholarship and boarding opportunity to talented but financially disadvantaged kids with deceased fathers and/or mothers. Students receive a high-quality education along with an intensive foreign language curriculum. Students grow up as socially and culturally knowledgeable individuals.
Today, Darüşşafaka Schools in Maslak, Istanbul educates and trains almost 1000 students who are selected through an exam from all corners of Turkey. They are raised as modern, self-confident, curious, and socially responsible individuals that are life-long learners and researchers and are committed to Ataturk’s principles. At Darüşşafaka Schools pupils come from 72 different cities across Turkey. 60% of the students are from outside of Istanbul while 40% are from Istanbul. Our students from outside of İstanbul spend their weekends also at Darüşşafaka.
Donations to the Darüşşafaka Society, which was founded in 1863, are used to cover not only the educational expenses of students of Darüşşafaka Schools but also all their needs such as clothing, accommodation, nutrition, and health. The Darüşşafaka Society was initially founded to support the training and education of the needy and uneducated community by Ghazi Ahmet Muhtar Pasha, Tevfik Pasha of Vidin, Ahmet Esat Pasha of Chios, and Ali Naki Effendi under the leadership of Yusuf Ziya Pasha, a statesman during that period. The Society had the old Valide School in Beyazıt renovated, and thereafter it encouraged many intellectuals including the national poet Namık Kemal to join the school as volunteer teachers for the education of the needy and uneducated community. Most of this community were craftsmen of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. In 1868, the Society initiated the construction of the school building designed by the Italian architect Barironi and planned by Dolmabahçe Palace’s chief architect Ohannes Kalfa in Istanbul’s Fatih district upon the donation by Sultan Abdülaziz Khan.
Having facilities ahead of its time that would enable coeducation under the same roof, the school opened its doors under the name of “Darüşşafakat’ül İslamiye” on 25 June 1873 as a no-fee boarding school with a special status and took its place in the history of education in Turkey with its first lesson on 28 June 1873.
In the late 1800s, there were no more than a handful of schools providing Western-style education in Turkey. Darüşşafaka Schools provide Western-style education, apart from the others, and have adopted the mission of “equality of opportunity in education”. While similar schools accepted children of wealthy families, Darüşşafaka Schools only enrolled children without fathers and with families in financial distress. Although Darüşşafaka Schools have changed the curriculum, name, and location over the years in consideration of the needs of the time, they continue to change lives through education by remaining loyal to its original mission of “equality of opportunity in education”.
Darüşşafaka Schools, which have altered the educational content based on the needs of the time throughout their history, included telegraphy in their curriculum during the time of the Ottoman Empire since the telegraph had become an important tool used by the Western nations in wars. Moreover, the Schools undertook the role of being a teacher academy to meet the then-arising needs for teachers following the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. Another characteristic of Darüşşafaka Schools is that it never compromises the quality of education. So much so that Darüşşafaka graduates between 1873 and 1884 were considered college graduates. As a result, by assessing the needs and expectations of today and designing the education of the future now, Darüşşafaka Schools started working for transformation and digitalization in education by taking necessary steps with a new strategic plan they created in 2015.
Darüşşafaka, which has been one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Turkey since its foundation, has been providing education with intensive English language courses since 1955. Ensuring that students’ level of English is excellent thanks to the schools’ strong foreign language education system, Darüşşafaka Schools teach mathematics and natural sciences courses in English, which is recognized as the international language of science.
Darüşşafaka Schools had enrolled only male students for about one hundred years but started accepting females in 1971; now, the number of male and female students are in proportion.
At Darüşşafaka which moved from its historical building in Fatih that was used for 120 years to its modern campus in Maslak district of İstanbul in 1994, classes consist of a maximum of 20 students, and there are on average 6 pupils for every one teacher. Every student and teacher has a tablet computer in line with the digital transformation adopted by the institution. Additionally, every teacher receives a laptop. Classes, on the other hand, are equipped with a solid infrastructure to serve the requirements of the said devices. In addition to the efforts to prepare students for foreign language tests and national and international exams with the strong teaching staff and k12 integrity for solid academic background, the program focused on the 21st-century skills, and the requirements necessary to equip students for a competitive environment. Darüşşafaka Schools aim today is to raise respectable individuals loyal to their values. Additionally, physics, chemistry, and computer classes are conducted in laboratories to enable students to learn through hands-on activities and ensure they develop analysis and synthesis skills. The development of these skills is also supported through the use of virtual lab software.
Darüşşafaka is the first secondary-level school to start artificial intelligence classes, open a Techno-Entrepreneurship Youth Center, and organize 3D Printing Workshops and Competitions in Turkey. Furthermore, It offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and coding, entrepreneurship, and digital transformation courses.
Darüşşafaka Schools place emphasis on social and cultural development as much as academic development through almost 70 different skills workshops to allow students to discover and develop their skills. Students learn to play at least one instrument and are trained in a sports category according to their interests and skills as soon as they are enrolled at Darüşşafaka. Having initiated the project called “From Skill to Career”, the schools established the skills workshops. With the Skills Academy Program, Darüşşafaka “Skills Map” has been prepared through a skills scan in nine different areas, and thereafter students started receiving training in workshops targeting the relevant areas. All efforts pertaining to 21st-century skills were included in the curriculum, and a “Career Office” was formed within the scope of the “From Skill to Career” project.
Our students start learning to play an instrument and training for a sports activity as soon as they start school. Students who receive education in many fields with the after-school life program can do sports in basketball and volleyball courts, football field, gymnasiums, gymnastics, and fitness rooms and participate in local, national, and international competitions in different fields such as science, mathematics, sports, arts, English, and literature every academic year.
Darüşşafaka Schools, which had educated only students with deceased fathers for many years, started giving the same opportunity to kids with deceased mothers as well after the amendment in the “Society bylaws” introduced on 14 April 2012. Upon this decision, students with deceased mothers enrolled at Darüşşafaka for the first time in the 2012/13 school year.
Darüşşafaka Schools have been accepting students following an entrance exam since its foundation. While 3rd grade students were able to take the exam until 2012, only 4th graders have been able to register for the exam as of 2013 after the adoption of the “4+4+4” educational system in Turkey.
Today, talented 4th graders with deceased fathers and/or mothers and without sufficient means for good quality education can apply for the Darüşşafaka Entrance Exam conducted across Turkey in May or June each year. Once students pass the exam and the following financial assessment and health check, their 8-year education begins with free boarding and a full scholarship.
Having changed its entrance exam system in 2008, Darüşşafaka added the general aptitude component to the exam in order to test students’ creative thinking and mental abilities besides the mathematics and Turkish language components.
Graduates receive scholarships also throughout their higher education when they start studying at their university of choice after completing an 8-year education of high quality in international standards with a full scholarship and free boarding at Darüşşafaka Schools.
Mathematician Salih Zeki (DŞ’1882); writer, journalist, historian, and politician Ahmet Rasim (DŞ’1883); litterateur İsmail Safa (DŞ’1886); composer Kazım Uz (DŞ’1890); poet, writer, educator Ali Kami Akyüz (DŞ’1891); Osman Nuri Ergin (DŞ’1901) who started contemporary municipalism studies in Turkey and produced quality works by scientifically analyzing the then-current functioning of the Ottoman-Turkish urbanism and municipalism history for the first time in Turkey; painter Mahmut Cuda (DŞ’1918); painter Muhittin Sebati (DŞ’1920); poet, educator, literary researcher, and politician Vasfi Mahir Kocatürk (DŞ’1927); writer Aziz Nesin (studied at Darüşşafaka for two years between 1926-28); Prof. Dr. Adnan Sokullu (DŞ’1929) who was the pioneer of ultrasonography; film and theater actor İhsan Devrim (DŞ’1937); literary critic Berna Moran (DŞ’1939); bureaucrat and former presidential secretary Necdet Seçkinöz (DS’1945); cartoonist Tekin Aral (DŞ’1957); theater and film actor and director Tolga Aşkıner (DŞ’1959), and many more…
Yurda nur saçar bilgimiz
İlmin yolunda rehber olacak
Bu yuva evladıyız
Var ol sen her an
Bu yurt uğrunda çarpan yürekle
Hep sana bağlıyız biz
Bu yurdun her köşesine
Dağılırız hep sevinçle
Kalplerde iman, gözlerde ateş
Hep sana bağlıyız biz
Yüreğimizden kopan seslerle
Ant içmişiz sana biz