The Armenian community in Turkey has received authorization to build its first school in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, to be completed to house the historical Armenian Dadyan School within two years.
The community will build the school with their own funding in addition to monetary aid from the Bakırköy Municipality. The school, which is expected to cost 4.5 billion Turkish Liras, will be constructed on 1,750 square meters of land. The foundation of the school was laid on Nov. 18.
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, Bakırköy Surp Asdvazsazsin Church Foundation Executive Board Chair Mesut Özdemir said they were very pleased to have obtained the proper authorization after 10 years of attempts.
“During the period of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, many steps have been taken in support of us. Now we can build a school,” Özdemir said.
Istanbul has an official Armenian population of 50,000, with 12 Armenian schools. Özdemir said another school was necessary. “We received some criticisms over it; however, the current school building is 166 years old and it is quite small. We have 400 students there and we want them to receive a modern education in a building that complies with today’s standards. More importantly, since the school building is historical, restoration is strictly forbidden. So we could not build additional classrooms there.
Consequently, we needed a new building.”
Even though the title of the land on which they would build the new school belonged to the Armenian community, it has been used by the municipality for years. “We could not claim the land as it was being used by the municipality as a green area but now they returned it to us,” Özdemir said, adding that the new building would be completed within two years and would serve as the new building of the Dadyan School. Some projects have been developed to preserve the old building as well.
The historical Dadyan School was built by the order of Sultan Selim III during the Ottoman period. Nubar Manavyan, who is planning the new building project, said, “We developed a plan taking the structure of the historical school building into consideration. It will be a modern school occupying over 1,750 square meters of land. It will have 16 classrooms, a kindergarten, an indoor sports hall, a library and a conference hall with 220-person capacity, which will meet the requirements of the new educational system.”