Education History of Meskhetian (Ahiskaian) Turks: Tsarist Russia Period

  •  Gülnara GOCA MEMMEDLI    


When we talk about Meskhetian/Ahiskaian Turks, it is perceived that the Turkish community with a population of approximately 200 thousand existed in the Meskhetian/Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia, who was exiled from their ancestral lands to the Central Asian countries in 1944 by the Soviet government. Due to its settled position, Ahiskaian Turkishness has been a gateway between Anatolia and the Caucasus, in other words, between the regions and civilizations, as well as the unifying bridge of Anatolian and Azerbaijani Turks. After the exile, this position expanded further, and it also assumed the role of the cultural carrier of Central Asia, Anatolia, and Azerbaijan. Today about 150 thousand Meskhetian Turks live in Kazakhstan, 100 thousand in Turkey, 100 thousand in Azerbaijan, 100 thousand in the Russian Federation, 50 thousand in Kyrgyzstan, 15 thousand in Uzbekistan, 10 thousand in the United States, 10 thousand live in Ukraine and 1,500 in Georgia. As they live in different countries, Meskhetian Turks are defined as a trans-national community. It is known that Meskhetian Turks have a rich cultural heritage. The modern type of schooling process of this community has an important historical background. In the presented article, the schools that operated before the Turks' 1944 evacuation from the historical Meskhet-Javakheti region in south-west Georgia are investigated. At the end of the 19th century, the new type of credit schools gave education in the Turkish language and opened in the villages of the Turks inhabited by the Turks in the Akhaltsikhe District in the province of Tiflis in Tsarist Russia, is being studied. In this context, the activity history of the primary schools established in the villages of Atsquri and Okam in 1881, Khertvisi in 1885, Adigeni in 1895, Oshora, Tsnisi, and Varkhani in 1897, the content of education in these schools, the contributions of reformist teachers who lit the light of enlightenment in the Akhaltsikhe cultural region, information specific to students is presented. The study's subjective sources and materials are mainly related materials in the Central Historical Archives of the National Archive of Georgia in Tbilisi.

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