Science and education in Western Azerbaijan

The names of hundreds of scientists, cultural, art and religious figures who were born and grew up in Western Azerbaijan are engraved in the history of Azerbaijan. Travelers, chroniclers, and researchers who visited Iravan at different times described the city of Iravan as an advanced scientific and cultural center of the East. Today the works of Iravan intellectuals, scientists, cultural and religious figures are kept in various libraries, archives and museums of the world.

In the Middle Ages, after the establishment of beylerbey and khanate administrations in Iravan, favorable conditions for the development of science and culture were created. Unfortunately, as a result of the migration processes that occurred due to the devastating wars and natural disasters, only a small number of works written in that period have survived. At the beginning of the 19th century, after the occupation of the Iravan Khanate by Russian troops, a significant part of the wealthy and intelligent elite of Iravan left the city. There is information about dozens of scientific and cultural figures in foreign countries who were originally from Iravan, and wrote their works under the surname and pseudonym “Iravani”. At the end of the 19th century, the outstanding Azerbaijani literary critic and educator Firudin Bey Kocherli, who worked in Iravan for some time, rightly called Iravan the city of “central ulema, fuzela and shuera” – that is, the city of ulemas, virtues and poets. It is possible to get a lot of information about science and education in the city of Iravan from the works of individual authors, statistical data of that time and archival documents.

Both during the khanate period and during the Russian occupation, special attention was paid to the proper education of the children of khans and nobles, dignitaries, and clerics. Many wealthy families sent their children to study in secular or higher religious schools in foreign countries. Since the Shiite sect was established in Iravan, the children of wealthy families mainly received higher religious education in Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Mashhad, Khorasan, Tabriz, and Cairo. Dozens of religious leaders with the title of ayatollahs, mujtahids, and Hojjat al-Islam, originally from the city of Iravan, bearing the surname “Iravani” grew up in those cities. The names of Ayatollah Molla Muhammad bin Muhammad Baghir Iravani-Hajafi, Ayatollah Sayyid Abdulmajid Iravani, Ayatullah Seyyid Ali Iravani, Ayatullah Mirza Abdulhusein Iravani, Haji Mirza Aliagha Iravani, Mirza Fazlali Agha, who left behind a rich legacy, are mentioned among famous Islamic scholars.

The work “Favaidul-hikmat” (“The benefit of wisdom”) written in Persian by Haji Suleyman Qajar Iravani (18th century), an outstanding Azerbaijani doctor and scientist born in the city of Iravan, gained great fame not only in Azerbaijan, but also in Central Asia and Iran. This book is a medieval encyclopedia of pharmaceuticals and describes the medicinal properties of thousands of medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Rare manuscript copies of “Fawaid al-hikmat” are kept in the Institute of Manuscripts of Azerbaijan named after Mohammad Fuzuli, as well as in Iran and Egypt. The book consists of two parts. The first part lists medicinal properties in alphabetical order. The second part is an explanatory dictionary of medieval pharmacological terms. The names of plants, animals and minerals in Azerbaijani, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Chinese, Indian and other languages are given.

In 1782, Iravan Khan Huseynali Khan invited a calligrapher from Tabriz to collect and organize the official documents and personal correspondence of the Khanate. The originals of those manuscripts, which are a valuable source for the history of the Iravan Khanate and the city of Iravan, were collected under the name “Huseynali Khan’s Divan” and made into a book. The only manuscript copy of “Huseynali Khan’s Divan” is currently kept in the State Museum of Armenia (Manuscript No. 5039/1121).

The manuscript of the work “Letters of Huseynali Khan of Iravan” is stored in the scientific archive of the Institute of History of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (Case 7415). The work was collected by Muhammad Muslim Qudsi, who was appointed as a mirza of the khan’s divankhana, and then as a vizier during the reign of Huseynali Khan. “Letters” contains the letters sent by the Iravan khans to the Ottoman sultan, Kartli-Kakheti tsar Irakli II, Khoi khan Ahmad khan, Karabakh khan Ibrahimkhalil khan in 1789-1791. “Letters” provides extensive information about the political, economic, trade relations, administration system, property and tax forms of the Iravan Khanate.

Armenian historian Tadevos Hakopyan writes that in 1923, manuscripts were collected from mosques and churches in Iravan and handed over to the manuscript fund in Etchmiadzin church. The manuscripts kept in the mosques were mainly in Arabic and Persian languages. Most of them were Quran and books related to Islam. Also, among the manuscripts there were poems with secular content and examples of artistic creativity with Arabic and Persian graphics. The manuscripts kept in the houses contained valuable historical information.

The most complete information about the education system in the city of Iravan can be found in “Historical Monument of the State of the Armenian Region in the Era of its Annexation to the Russian Empire” published in Saint Petersburg in 1852, by Russian historian and statistician Ivan Chopin, who conducted a census in that area in 1829-1831 after the Khanate was occupied by Russia. From those data, it is clear that the education system in the territory of the Iravan khanate was essentially no different from the education system in other khanates of Azerbaijan. According to I. Chopin’s writings, religious affairs of the Iravan khanate were conducted by clergymen with certain education. A large or small madrasa operated near each mosque. In the lower grades, teachers were called mudarris, and in upper grades, preachers. In addition to large classrooms, madrasas had small rooms – cells, where students lived. In some mosques, famous mujtahids taught, and listeners came from all over the country to listen to them. On the eve of the fall of the Iravan Khanate, 200 students were studying in 8 mosques in the city of Iravan alone.

According to I. Chopin, Muslim scholars divided all sciences into three main areas: Al-Arabiyat, Al-Sharua and Al-Hakimah. The first field mainly included the rules of the Arabic language, history and recitation of the Qur’an. The second field included the interpretation of the Qur’an, the study of hadiths, and the study of the foundations of Islamic law and kalam. The third field included the study of logic, mathematics, geometry and astronomy, medicine and theoretical philosophy.

Both in schools and madrasas, special attention was paid to good manners. Apart from schools and madrasas, there was also an individual type of education in the territory of the Iravan khanate.

Separate teachers were engaged in the education of the children of the khan, sardar, nobles and merchants in their house. According to the information given by I. Chopin, in every Muslim’s home, one can find copies of the books related to the subjects taught in schools, especially the Qur’an and Sharia, and several copies of each. The author writes that poetry books with calligraphic lines were expensive in Iravan, and history books were sold at an even higher prices. According to his writings, the Armenian posession of books was poor. Only in the homes of some wealthy Armenians one can rarely find a “Bible” or a book related to the rules of religious worship. All this once again proves that the city of Iravan was one of the developed centers of science and culture of Azerbaijan during the Khanate period, and special attention was paid to education.

Stepan Zelinsky, who was a teacher of the preparatory class of the Iravan progymnasium (he was an Armenian by nationality), in the article “City of Iravan” published in the “Collection of Descriptive Materials of the Regions and Tribes of the Caucasus” indicated that in 1880, 153 students were studying in mosques in the city of Iravan, and 8 teachers were engaged with their training. S. Zelinsky wrote that, in addition, there was a higher religious Muslim school in Iravan, where students were not charged tuition fees, on the contrary, the mosque awarded them from 3 rubles to 10 rubles, depending on their educational success. The author wrote that the majority in the religious Muslim schools were from the villages, that up to 60 students were educated each year, and after completing the full course, they were given the rank of akhund. Although S. Zelinsky did not write under which mosque the higher religious school operated, it can be assumed that the school operated under Juma or Huseynali Khan mosques, which were the main mosques of the city.

During the Russian occupation, the first two-grade state uyezd school was opened in Iravan on January 14, 1832. F.Zuboev, a student of Moscow University, was the organizer and inspector of that school located in the Iravan fortress. In the work “Overview of the Russian Lands in the Caucasus” published in Saint Petersburg in 1836, it is written: ” In the city of Iravan there is one public school with 60 students, one Armenian school transferred from Etchmiadzin in 1827 and 8 Tatar (Azerbaijani) schools. Up to 120 students study in all these 9 schools, and they pay from 20 kopecks to 1 silver ruble per month, depending on their ability.” On March 15, 1868, the uyezd school in Iravan was transformed into a four-class gymnasium. Religious lessons, Russian, Tatar (Azerbaijani language), Armenian, Latin, French, history, geography, mathematics and natural sciences were taught in this school, where Azerbaijani children were also educated. Stepan Zelinsky in the above-mentioned article “Iravan city” noted that in the span of  30 years from 1850 to 1880, 558 Tatars (Azerbaijani) graduated from the uyezd school in Iravan and progymnasium.

On March 31, 1881, the progymnasium was transformed into an eight-class gymnasium and was later called the Iravan Boys’ Gymnasium. According to the information as of January 1, 1883, 37 of the 237 students studying at the Iravan gymnasium were Azerbaijanis. According to the information obtained, at the Iravan Boys’ Gymnasium from its  establishment until its closure on August 6, 1918, Sharia lessons and the subject of the Azerbaijani language were taught by Molla Taghi Mahmud oglu in 1836-1856, Mirza Alakbar Elkhanov in 1856-1885, Firudin bey Kocherli in 1885-1895, Ismayil bey Shafibayov in 1895-1905, 1905-1906 They were taught by Mirza Muhammad Sheikhzadeh in 1907-1918 and Sheikh Abusattar Kazimov in 1907-1918.

Iravan Boys’ Gymnasium has given a number of outstanding people to the society, state, science, culture and art of Azerbaijan. Well-known statesmen such as Mammad bey Gaziyev, Teymur bey Makinsky, Akbar agha Sheikhulislamov, Nariman bey Narimanbeyov, Muhammad Maharramov, Aziz Aliyev, intellectuals and scientists Miryusif Mirbabayev, Mustafa bey Topchubashov, Ahmed Rajabli, Magsud Mammadov, generals Habib bey Salimov, Gambay Vazirov graduated from the Iravan gymnasium. Although some of the Azerbaijani girls who graduated from the Iravan gymnasium were displaced from Iravan as a result of 1918-1920 genocide, the rest did important work in the direction of public education and the elimination of illiteracy in Iravan during the Soviet rule. Some of the graduates of Iravan Boys’ Gymnasium worked as teachers in uyezd schools, and some of them continued their studies in various higher schools of Russia.

One of the schools operating in Iravan was St. Hripsime Girls’ School. On January 2, 1850, on the initiative of Yelizaveta Vorontsova, the wife of the Viceroy of the Caucasus, Mikhail Vorontsov, and by the decision of the board of the Saint Nina Charitable Society operating in Iravan, the St. Hripsime Girls’ school was founded. On July 9, 1884, this school became a three-class girls’ gymnasium. On May 30, 1898, the progymnasium was transformed into an eight-class girls’ gymnasium with the establishment of a preparatory class. Daughters of wealthy Azerbaijanis were also educated in this paid school. Only in 1916-1918, 36 Azerbaijani girls graduated from St. Hripsime Gymnasium. In the “Memory Book” of the Iravan Governorate for 1914, it is stated that Hashim Bey Narimanbeyov taught sharia lessons and the Azerbaijani language in this gymnasium.

Since the 1950s and 1960s, private schools began to operate in the city of Iravan. Private schools could only be opened by Russian citizens with the permission of the Caucasian Education Department. There were two types of private schools. The first type of schools included the traditional mollakhana-style schools operating on the basis of the individual curriculum of the teachers attached to the mosques or churches, and the second type of schools included the schools that were newly opened, but adapted their curriculum to the programs of the public schools. In 1863, there were 15 private Azerbaijani and Armenian schools in Iravan.

In 1865, 9 Muslim religious schools operated in the city, where 223 students were educated. At that time, 150 students were studying in 6 Armenian religious schools. In 1866, the number of students in the schools near the mosques reached 596 people.

The families originally from Iravan, who moved to South Azerbaijan for various reasons, continued their ties to Iravan. Mirza Hasan Rushdiyya, an Azerbaijani educator, spiritual and social-political figure, was one of them. He came to Iravan in 1883 and opened a modern secular school for local Muslims with the help of his brother Mirza Ali, who lived there.

The famous Azerbaijani scientist, critic and pedagogue Firudin Bey Kocherli graduated from the Gori Teachers’ Seminary in 1885 and was assigned to work at the Iravan Boys’ Gymnasium. As an intellectual, he saw the root of social problems in ignorance and lack of knowledge, and he used all his effort to educate the people. Firudin Bey had an exceptional service in opening new-type schools in Iravan and providing them with educational materials. In the fifth year of his work in Iravan, i.e. in 1890, in his article entitled “Letter from Iravan”, Firudin Bey wrote: “There are two or three schools that have been opened in our city. Muslim children also study science and manners in a new way with the children of other nations… Of course, these schools have many flaws in this case, but there is hope that the people of Iravan will pay attention and fix every need of the schools soon.” Firudin Bey Kocharli’s book “Azerbaijani Literature” provides detailed information about some schools in Iravan, including intellectuals such as Mashadi Ismayil Kazimzadeh and Mirza Kazim Askarzadeh who opened schools in Iravan.

One of the wealthy merchants of Iravan, Mashadi Ismayil Kazimzade, nicknamed “Bazmi”, opened a school in 1866 in addition to working as a Sharia and Turkish language teacher in the city school of Iravan. F. Kocherli writes that after he was appointed a teacher at the Iravan gymnasium, he often visited Mirza Ismayil and observed how he taught lessons with enthusiasm. Mashadi Ismayil Kazimzadeh realized the defect of teaching in the old way and designed an alphabet himself to teach using usuli-sovti (that is, the pronunciation of letters as sounds, not words). Although this step of his was ridiculed by the supporters of old style, Mashadi Ismayil continued his work.

One of the private schools operating in Iravan was a boarding house opened in 1877 by Sofia Stasyulevich. S. Zelinsky wrote down in the article “Iravan City” what the founder of the city’s first private boarding house told him. While living in Nakhchivan, S.Stasyulevich met Kalbali Khan Nakhchivanski and personally trained his two children. Satisfied with her, Kalbali Khan advises Sofia to go to Iravan and educate Muslim children. Arriving in Iravan, Sofia first appealed to the local khans to help open a boarding house for Muslim children, but she did not receive a positive response from them. Zelinsky further writes that fortunately, someone named Shafi Bey offered Sofia to teach his children free of charge, if he can provide her additional students. Sofia rented a house and soon her students grew, reaching 15 by the end of the second year. Thanks to Sophia’s success in training and motherly care for children, the number of Muslim students she trained in her boarding house later reached 45 people. The students who entered the progymnasium from her boarding school were known as the best students there. Due to her success, Armenians and Russians sent their children to Sofia’s boarding school. In the years 1877-1880, 105 students were educated in the boarding house of S. Stasyulevich, 58 of them were Azerbaijani, 43 were Armenian, and 4 were Russian.

Iravan city elementary school, opened in 1880, was transformed into a three-class school named after Pushkin in 1900. In 1901, a Sunday school was opened at the school named after Pushkin. Regardless of nationality and religion, Iravanians from 16 to 50 years of age were admitted to the school. In addition to Russian and other languages, the Azerbaijani language was also taught in the school named after Pushkin. Mirza Huseyn Akhundov was the head of the Muslim section of the school and also worked as an Azerbaijani language teacher. Saleh Gullijinsky, who took an active part in the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia, was a graduate of the Pushkin School.

On November 3, 1881, the first class of the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary was opened with two classes. As a result of the efforts of the first director of the seminary, Jacob Sushevsky, 9 teachers and 42 students were involved in the seminary in the first year. The second class of the seminary was opened in 1882, and the third class in 1883. Like all teachers’ seminaries in the Caucasus, Iravan teachers’ seminary consisted of 4 classes. In the formation of the pedagogical contingent of the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary, graduates of the Gori Teachers’ Seminary were mainly used. According to the regulations of the seminary, only boys could be admitted to this educational institution. An elementary school also operated under the seminary. The seminarians spent their pedagogical experience in that school. Ordubad city school was considered the experimental school of that seminary. In addition to various subjects being taught in the seminary, a number of professions were also voluntarily taught – woodworking, bookbinding, vegetable growing, and sericulture. The report on the situation of the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary, which trained teachers for Caucasian schools, from 1884 till 1895, 123 people graduated from the seminary, 25 of them were Azerbaijanis, and the rest were representatives of other nationalities. It is clear from the report written by V. Dobryn, director of the Iravan teachers’ seminary in 1918, that 19 Azerbaijanis graduated from the seminary in the 1915-16 academic year, 22 Azerbaijanis graduated in the 1916-17 academic year, and 23 Azerbaijanis graduated in the 1917-18 academic year. In general, 316 people graduated from the seminary within three years, 64 of them were Azerbaijanis, and 2 Turks.

In addition to theology, Russian language, arithmetic, geometry, geography, history and biology subjects, Tatar (Azerbaijani language) lessons were held at the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary. Akhund Muhammad Bagir Gazizadeh worked as a Sharia teacher, Alasgar Karimov, Rahim Khalilov, Rashid Bey Shahtakhtinsky, Mirza Jabbar Mammadov worked as an Azerbaijani language teachers at the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary for a long time.

The first graduation of the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary took place in 1884. Five people graduated from the school that year. At the end of the 19th century, a large number of rural school teachers and principals working in Transcaucasia obtained the right to teach by taking an external exam. Among the well-known figures, Hashim bey Vazirov, Hamid agha Shahtakhtinsky, Taghi bey Safiyev, Ibadulla Mughanlinski, Shamil Mahmudbeyov, Jabbar Mammadov graduated from the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary. Azerbaijani graduates of the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary were assigned as teachers in Russian-Tatar schools in the provinces.

After the establishment of the first Armenian state – the Republic of Armenia (Ararat) in the territory of the Iravan governorate in May 1918, the activity of the Iravan Teachers’ Seminary was terminated. The genocides carried out by Armenians in Iravan in 1918-1920 resulted in the closing of all Azerbaijani schools. Some of the intellectuals of Iravan became victims of Armenian atrocities. Many intellectuals were displaced from the city of Iravan. Some of the intellectuals from Iravan fled to Iran, some to Turkey, and a large number of them built new lifes in Azerbaijan. Only a part of the Azerbaijanis who left the city during the reign of the Dashnaks were able to return to Iravan after the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia. Azerbaijanis, who were the majority in this area at all times, had become a “national minority” in their homeland.

On December 9, 1920, the Council of People’s Commissars of Armenia issued a decree on the separation of schools from churches and mosques and their transfer to the state. In the decree of the Armenian People’s Commissariat of Education dated December 17, 1920, it was decided that education in schools would be in the mother tongue and free of charge. According to the decision of the National Assembly of Armenia dated April 23, 1921, it was determined that Azerbaijanis should be educated in their own language and apart from Armenian another foreign language should be taught.

At the end of 1921, in order to lead the cultural and educational activities conducted among other nationalities living in Armenia, a Turkish section was established under the propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Armenian K(b)P to strengthen the work with the minorities. That department was first headed by Mammadali Nasir, a former resident of Iravan, who came from Azerbaijan, and then Bala Efendiyev, who was sent to a leadership position from Azerbaijan in 1921, became the deputy commissar of internal affairs of Armenia, and later the commissar of public social security. Later, the “Bureau of Minority Nationalities”, which operated under the Armenian People’s Commissariat of Education, was transformed into the “Council of Minority Nationalities” in June 1932. The Council played a special role in eliminating illiteracy among Azerbaijanis living in Armenia. On April 28, 1924, the New Turkish Alphabet Committee was established in Iravan. The New Turkish Alphabet Committee led by Bala Efendiyev did a lot to eliminate illiteracy among the Azerbaijani population in Armenia.

After the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia, practical measures for the development of education began to be implemented. Courses were organized in Iravan and Gyumri for a short period of time in order to meet the need for teachers in Azerbaijani schools. Some teachers were sent to Baku to improve their qualifications. If in 1922 there were 32 schools in Armenia where education was in the Azerbaijani language, in the academic year 1923-24 their number reached 104.

In the first years of the Soviet rule, Azerbaijani children studied in the Azerbaijani girls’ school in Iravan, in the school named after Mashadi Azizbeyov, which operated on the basis of the former school of Hashim bey Narimanbeyov (this school was called the school of Hashim bey by the people of Iravan), in the school named after S.M. Kirov and later named after Mize Fatali Akhundov, and in two other international schools of the city. Illiteracy eradication courses were opened in Iravan. The Iravan Women’s Club, which has been operating since 1923, has done a lot of work in eliminating illiteracy and teaching housewives.

On May 30, 1925, a republican meeting of the teachers of Azerbaijani schools in Armenia was held in the school named after Azizbeyov, and some aspects of the teaching methods of the new alphabet were clarified. On August 25 of that year, a congress of teachers of Azerbaijani schools in Armenia was held in Gyumru (Leninakand). In 1930, universal primary education was introduced. In the academic year 1930-1931, there were 971 schools in Armenia, where 132,300 students studied. 162 of them were Azerbaijani schools and 9,536 students studied in them. In 1936, out of 541 teachers working in Azerbaijani schools in Armenia, only 5 had higher education, and they were teachers of schools in the city of Iravan. In 1935, a part-time two-year Institute of Teachers in the Azerbaijani language was opened in Gyumru (Leninakand). Later, that institute was moved to Dilijan city and later closed. Lecturers sent from Baku taught at the two-year Institute of Teachers.

Although the Soviet government was established in Armenia, the insidious policy against the Azerbaijanis was covertly continued. The nationalist leaders of Armenia disguised as communists discriminated nationally, and in order to halt the Azerbaijani population’s enlightment, they first of all eliminated their intellectuals in various ways. The repression of the 20s and 30s of the 20th century, as in the whole of Armenia, led to the decrease of Azerbaijani intellectuals and religious figures living in Iravan. By the decision of the Central Executive Committee of Armenia and the Council of People’s Commissars dated June 18, 1928, holding religious ceremonies in mosques or other places of religious worship was prohibited and considered a criminal act. Abusing this, the law enforcement agencies of Armenia succeeded in repressing hundreds of Azerbaijani clerics with false accusations. Mirza Huseyn Agha, who received his first education in Iravan, then continued his studies in Baghdad and Najaf, mastered the Arabic and Persian languages perfectly, wrote poems in Arabic, Persian and Azerbaijani under the pseudonyms “Hadi”, “Safa”, and was subjected to repression and sent to Russia in 1938. He was exiled to the city of Kaluga, where he died at the age of 70. Armenians confiscated and destroyed the legacy of Mirza Huseyn Agha, who was friends with Huseyn Javid and Bekir Chobanzade, and corresponded with orientalists in Russia and Iran.

Mustafa Huseynov, one of the intellectuals from Iravan, the editor of “Gizil Shafaq” newspaper, was arrested and shot on false charges, Ibrahim Aliyev, Abbas Azeri, Ismayil Aliyev, Abdulla Mirzayev, other employees of the newspaper, were subjected to repression. In 1930-1935, 102 students and teachers of Iravan Turkish Pedagogical Technical College were subjected to repression with the labels of “bey”, “khan”, “landlord”, “golchomag”, “kulak”.

Dozens of academicians, doctors of science, and hundreds of educators have grown up among the graduates of the boarding-type Iravan Turkish Pedagogical Technical College, which had been operating since 1924 and prepared teachers for Azerbaijani schools in Armenia. At different times, this educational institution was headed by well-known educators such as Mehdi Kazimov, Bahlul Yusifov, Hamid Mammadzade. Since 1936, this educational institution was called the Iravan Azerbaijani Pedagogical School, has given a number of prominent figures such as Yusif Mammadaliyev to Azerbaijani science and education.

Since the mid 1926, a pedagogical journal called “People’s Education”, which was a joint work of the Iravan New Turkish Alphabet Committee and the Minorities Department under the Armenian People’s Education Commissariat, began to be published once a month. The “People’s Education” journal, which was published thanks to the initiative of Bala Efendiyev and Mehdi Kazimov, mainly aimed to meet the cultural-educational and pedagogical needs of Azerbaijani teachers, and to help teaching with new methods. Although the journal was supposed to be published once a month, only 9 issues were published from 1926 to 1932. The chauvinist leadership of Armenia first blocked and then completely stopped the activity of the journal to prevent the cultural development of Azerbaijanis.

In 1928, the Azerbaijani branch of the Iravan Agricultural Technical College began to operate, and in 1933, that department became the independent Iravan Azerbaijani Agricultural Technical College. Since 1937, there was an Azerbaijani department at 3 faculties (language-literature, physics-mathematics, history-geography) of Iravan Pedagogical Institute. As a result of the deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1948-1953, carried out under the name of “voluntary resettlement”, the network of Azerbaijani schools was seriously destroyed, and the Iravan Pedagogical Technical College was hastily moved to the Khanlar (now Goygol) district of Azerbaijan in 1948. The Azerbaijani departments of the Iravan State Pedagogical Institute and the Armenian SSR State Correspondence Pedagogical Institute (language-literature, history, physics-mathematics) were respectively transferred to the pedagogical institutes in Baku. At that time, a large part of the teachers and students of two secondary schools in Iravan, where education was in Azerbaijani language – girls’ secondary schools named after Kirov and boys’ secondary schools named after Azizbeyov, had to move to Azerbaijan, thereby fulfilling the long-standing desire of the Armenian leadership, who wanted to remove Azerbaijani teaching staff from the city of Iravan.

Only in 1954, the Azerbaijani department was opened again at the Iravan Pedagogical Institute, with two faculties (physics-mathematics and Azerbaijani language and literature). Only the department of Azerbaijani language and literature operated independently in the institute. The department was first headed by a well-known scientist Akbar Iravani, and after his death, Knyaz Mirzayev. Qualified scientists from Baku were invited to teach certain subjects in the Azerbaijan department of the institute. In 1961, the Faculty of Physics-mathematics and Literature-history were abolished at the Iravan Pedagogical Institute, and instead, the Faculty of Pedagogy and Methodology of Primary Education was opened, where 25 students studied. In 1970, the Faculty of Pedagogy and Methodology of Primary Education was abolished, and instead, the Faculty of Literature and History was opened, which accepted 25 students.

Since the mid-1960s, the resurgence of Armenian chauvinism and the gradual relocation of Azerbaijani families living compactly in old Azerbaijani neighborhoods to new settlements built on the outskirts of the city, the inability of Azerbaijani children to travel from the outskirts of the city to Azerbaijani schools in the center, forced Azerbaijani families to move from the city of Iravan. Some Azerbaijani families were forced to send their children to Russian-language schools in the city. All this, in turn, led to a decrease in the contingent of Azerbaijani students and teachers in the city of Iravan.

According to the information given by the Ministry of Education of the Armenian SSR in 1981-1982 about the international schools in which education was conducted in the Azerbaijani language, a total of 48,812 Azerbaijani students were educated in 155 Azerbaijani and 38 international schools in Armenia, where there were also Azerbaijani classes. At that time, a total of 176 students were educated in one eight-year and one Azerbaijani secondary school in Iravan. 36 of them studied at the eight-year school named after Azizbeyov, and 140 studied at the secondary school named after Akhundov.

The city of Iravan has given a number of outstanding personalities to the science of Azerbaijan. From the list compiled by Nureddin Ibrahimov, who worked for a long time in the system of the Ministry of Education of the Armenian SSR, it is known that before the fall of the Soviet Union, the city of Iravan provided various fields of science with 6 academicians, 3 corresponding members of the academy, 27 doctors of sciences and 73 candidates of sciences. As a tradition, one of the deputy ministers of education of the Armenian SSR was an Azerbaijani. Rahim Allahverdiyev, Rza Valibayov, Suren Sharifov, Israfil Mammadov worked in this position at different times.

The outbreak of Armenian separatism in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988 resulted in the complete deportation of Azerbaijanis in Armenia and the destruction of educational institutions with a rich tradition. In February 1988, after the building of the Azerbaijani high school named after M.F. Akhundov was burned down by Armenian vandals, the educational process at the school was terminated. In general, in 1988-1989, 155 schools where education was in the Azerbaijani language and the Azerbaijani departments of 38 international schools were closed. 48,681 students and 3,992 teachers were forcibly deported from Armenia.

Nazim Mustafa
Doctor of philosophy in history, recipient of the State Prize