documento | Advances in Assyrian Language Development and Education in Iran and Ottoman Turkey (1835-1918)

  • The first modern Assyrian schools were established in the Urmia region of Iran on 18 January 1836 by foreign missionaries. Prior to that, only males with ecclesiastical ranks were able to read or write, with the exception of one or two women from privileged families. The education was rudimentary, and consisted almost exclusively of instruction in classical Syriac religious texts to boys who would later grow to serve the Church. While modern Assyrian had been in use to write some religious poetry since the 1500s, it was never a widespread language of literature or communication until the arrival of the missions. By 1914, there were an estimated 627 educational institutions (including schools, seminaries and colleges) in Iran and the Ottoman Empire either run by Assyrian Churches and individuals or attended by Assyrian students, where either Classical Syriac or Neo-Aramaic (in some cases both) were part of the teaching curricula. These had a total enrollment of about 21,000 students, representing an average of 9% of the total school-age Assyrian population of the time. Significantly, some 57% of these educational institutions and 43% of all enrolled students were located in Iran.

  • Category: education
  • Thematic area: Education and literacy
  • Call topics: Environmental and language activism
  • Major objective: Deliver capacities to take concrete actions and measures to support, access and promote indigenous languages
  • Area of intervention: Creation of favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices with regard to indigenous languages