Rousse Regional Museum of History
"All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk". Elias Canetti
The Education in Rousse during the National Revival Period

Reneta Roshkeva, Curator at the “History of Bulgaria 15th-19th century” Department

Bulgarian schools. The sources from the 18th century are mentioning the presence of different church schools, like the one of father Dragni, the first documented church school. A marginal note to a handwritten prayer-book says: “When the house of hadzhi father Dragni, the new one, we were studying there, years 1720, month June, 2”. Another marginal note says that his father – the priest Peno, has also been a clergyman, and also a donor to the St. Trinity cathedral, and most likely – a teacher for many years. Unfortunately, there is no accurate data on the whereabouts of this school, and its relation to the St. Trinity church is only a hypothesis. In all cases, the 18th century has been the peak of the development of the church education. It was conducted by priests, according to religious books (the Book of Hours, Psalms, and Book of the Apostles) necessary for liturgy. The studying was mainly through remembering them by heart. During the second half of the 18th century in Rousse already functioned the school of Ivan Tonev, born in Cherven, known among the people of Rousse as father Yani – most likely student and follower of father Dragni. His borther, Todor Tonev (hieromonk Averkius), monk from the Rila Monastery, after his return to Rousse, was teaching the growing ups in the convent of the town’s monastery (it was located on the present-day Veliko Tarnovo Str.) up to 1780, when he returned to the Rila Monastery and became its abbot.

The first half of the 19th century is the time, when the new conditions in the empire became clear, and it has decided to change in the name of its preservation. The Era of the Tanzimat (reforms) proclaims equality of the subjects of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the introduction of the Modern time into the aging empire. The number of the church schools also grew. In the outlying neighbourhoods in the eastern part of the town at that time educators were priest Dragni (in the Humba neighbourhood, along the present-day Raiko Daskalov Str.), and priest Hristo (in the Bara neighbourhood), and father Todor was tutoring in the Chukur Chiflik (St. George) neighbourhood. From the middle of the century is known the name of teacher Zhelyazko hadzhi Petrov – his school was along Alexandrovska Str. towards the present-day covered market. The nephew of Averkius, teacher Toni Tonev, was also a church teacher for a long time. He was not a priest and he laid the foundations of the secular education in town. He taught in his father’s house, burnt in 1811 (after the battle of Rouschouk during a retreat). After these events he built a new house (near the present-day Post Office), he was introducing in the education process moments of the Bible, narrated by himself, he introduced mathematics and attracted in his school almost all of the pupils from the other church schools. The increased number of pupils of teacher Toni forced the municipality to engage in finding a building for his school. At the opening of the Common school (1820) on the riverbank of the Danube, in the Varosh neighbourhood, it had two large premises (for the Bulgarian-Slavonic and the Greek school, where teacher Konstantin was working).

The change of adjustments led also to the first attempts for women education. According to the memories of N. Obretenov it becomes clear that when she was a girl (around 1820) Tonka Obretenova visited a church teacher-priest, who was also a relative to her parents. She studied there only for three days, but after that until the opening of girls’ classes in schools, many of the girls were made literate by visiting private classes at the neighbourhood priests. Until the middle of the century, especially concerning the girls, the church schools existed as an educational alternative, but were quickly replaced by the new education methods with the introduction of the peer tutoring method. In 1840 the Common School introduced the “Bell-Lancaster (peer tutoring) method” of education under the guidance of teacher Paraskeva Damyanovich Boyadzhiev (born in Karlovo). Now the interest of the people of Rousse towards literacy courses strengthened. Soon the building of the Common School became unsuitable to house the children. After a visitn of Sultan Abdul Majit in the town in 1841 the Bulgarians were allowed to erect a new building for their school. The credit for this is due to P. Boyadzhiev, who gathered his pupils in straight rows and dressed in uniforms they sang Turkish songs, thus winning the benevolence of the rulers. The stamp of the school bore the year of 1841 but its building was complete in 1843. For the needs of the new school, with the donation of Dimitar Hadzhi Russet, his son Alexander printed in 1843 in Strasbourg the first ethnographic map of “present-day Bulgaria, Thrace and Macedonia and the belonging lands on four sheets”.

Soon primary schools were established in the peripheral neighbourhoods, too. A rapid development of the education followed. The following data for the number of teachers in Rousse during the 19th century can serve as an illustration. While in the initial 1830s only 9 men, mainly priests, were teachers, only ten years later their number grew to 16, and among them there is even a woman – Stefana Poptsvetkova (Mampadia); in the 1860/1870s the number of teachers in Rousse is already 88, of which 18 were women. In 1857 in the neighbourhood of Chukur chiflik at the Church of “St. George” was opened a church school and only three years later, with the arrival of the teacher Nikola Popov from Elena the school grew to a peer tutor one. The successor of this school is the present-day “Angel Kanchev” school. Soon it was not capable of accommodating the pupils. An initiative for the construction of a new building was started, finished successfully in 1862. In 1867 teacher Nikola created a “Society for supporting poorer pupils”, later renamed in “Bratstvo” (“Fraternity”). N. Popov managed to raise the image of the school. He was also author of textbooks, of two other books and a columnist at the local newspapers. With the years two grades above the peer tutor school were opened. After graduating the students were entering the Varosh School, which is a class one and was considered to be the Main for the town. Teachers here were also Donka Argirova, Utsa Dimova, Hristo Babev.

A significant place for the development of the education during the National Revival period in Rousse had the Krainensko School (nowadays the “Otets Paisii” Primary School). The first teachers-priests were also active in this part of the town – the neighbourhoods of Voyvodova, Mechka and Krainenska, as well as Dish Varosh, Humba (which are in the direction of the present-day center) were settled mainly by Bulgarians, which have arrived from the surrounding villages. The school was opened in 1866, after the school of “St. Gorge”. A building was adapted to the needs of the children from the Voyvodova and Mechka neighbourhoods, but it soon became confined. Except for the growth of the number of boys, since the beginning of the 1870s girls’ classes were also opened in the Krainensko School. From 1870 a teacher here became a very interesting figure from the National Revival period in Rousse – Todor hadzhi Stanchev. Born in 1849 in Rousse, he studied at the Varosh School and later graduated the secondary school of Sremski Karlovets (Austria-Hungary) and a Theological Faculty in Serbia. In his time, the Krainensko School advanced significantly. Filled with energy, ambitious and with a lot of interests, he established the first Bulgarian church singing association in the coutry; translated theological and pedagogue literature, translated 2 and wrote 6 poems for the theatrical society in Rousse up to the Liberation, where he also participated as an actor and a producer in the beginning. In August 1871 under the editing of Todor hadzhi Stanchev began the publishing of “Slava”, a periodical spiritual magazine for moral education and intellectual development. From its pages we learn about the successes and wretchedness of the Krainensko school. Analogically with the Main school, where the “Fruit” students’ association was established, here Todor hadzhi Stanchev created the “Diligence” students’ association. With his overall activity, this teacher was trying to educate his students in a spirit of patriotism, in respecting moral and Christian values. He also participated in the Revolutionary Committee of Rousse. With the development, the authority of the school also increased and in 1875 the schoolboys were already 64, and the schoolgirls – 41. Then, nine years after the beginning of its existence, a campaign was started for raising funds for the construction of a new building for the Krainensko school. The Bulgarian Municipality, the “Stupanka” Women’s Society, the crafts associations joined with financial aid. The Vilayet administrative council granted 10 000 grosh. A new building, however, was constructed not earlier than after 1878, and thanks to the donation of Angel Hadzhioglu, who in 1856 bequeathed money for the schools of Rousse. The school was named after the contributor.
In 1871 a school was also opened in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Rousse – Girdap. In the beginning it was located inside a private house. For four years it turned out to be confined for the children, who were willing to learn and in 1875 began the collecting of resources for the construction of a new building. Successor and continuer of this school is the “Ivan Vazov” Secondary School.

The education for the girls also marked an advance. After the church schools, the mutual schools also registered girls, although this was more of an exception. But in the middle of the 19th century there is data for girls’ classes in schools. Officially, the organization of a Girls’ School in town was after the Crimean War (1853-1856). Up to 1864 the girls were studying in private houses, in the half-storey of the Boys’ School. After the expulsion of the Greek Bishop Sinesius by the Bulgarians-Christians, the municipal house where he lived was transformed into a Girls’ School. It had three grades, one preparatory and four classes. Among the teachers here were Nikola and Stefan Penevi, Nikola and Stanka Ikonomovi, as well as their daughter Dochka Ikonomova, Stoyanka Krasnalieva, Magdalina Tsarichinska – a total of 18 teachers worked in Rousse in the 1870s. The grading school of Rousse, which developed on the basis of the Varosh mutual school after the arrival of P. Boyadzhiev, marks a tempestuous development and in the period between 1841 and 1878 affirmed as one of the leading education facilities in the Bulgarian lands. Teachers in this school were famous National Revival figures, with contribution to the development of the community: Hristo Draganov, Petar Arnaudov, Dimitar Enchev, Ivan Kasabov, Dimitar Kulevich, Dragan Tsankov, Dimitar Razsolkov, Ivan Chorapchiev, Hristo Bogorov, Ignat Ivanov, Ivan Momchilov, Luka Neichov, Stoil Popov, Georgi Zhivkov, Petar Chernev, Kuni Kutinchev, Ivan Danev – in the 1860s/1870s around 70 teacher passed through the primary (grading) school of Rousse. Rousse welcomed the Liberation with a strict network of Bulgarian schools: Main Boys’ Five-grade school; Main Girls’ school; Primary Boys’ school in Chukur chiflik and Primary Girls’ school in the same place; Primary Boys’ school in the Girdap neighbourhood; Primary Boys’ and Girls’ schools in the Krainenska neighbourhood – a total of 517 boys and 316 girls. There is no data for the existence of a church school in those years.

Other schools. Except for these schools, in Rousse there were also a Jewish school (revived by Abraham Rozanis in 1866), Armenian for boys (since 1853) and girls (since 1857), three private schools, of which the one to the Catholic church in town gave education to girls and boys from different nationalities, emphasizing on the language education. The Turkish schools stayed behind the requirements of their time for long. With the adoption of the reform acts for the renewal of the Ottoman Empire in the first half of the 19th century, the structure of the state education in Turkey was shaped in three sections: elementary (with two degrees – sabiyan and ruzhdie), junior high (idadie) and high (sultanie). In Rousse there were schools of the ruzhdie degree, and the new building of the boys’ one was opened in 1863, and in 1874 began the construction of the girls’ ruzhdie, which hawever up to 1878 was not used for this purpose. The most famous Turkish school in Rousse during the National Revival period is the Islyahhane (1865), which is part of the large-scale reform policy of Midhat Pasha in the filed of culture and education. Orphans were registered there with no account on their faith and ethnicity. There was also a boarding house for it. A building, specifically erected next to the Vilayet Government in 1866, received the 200 pupils of the school. Professional education was received there, which responded to the requirements of the Modern times – boys were trained here to become metallurgists, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, conductors, telegraphs workers, etc. In 1872 was opened the girls’ Islyahhane. The profit of certain estates, among which was the modern “Islyahhane” hotel, served for funding this school.

The schools, as well as the other culture institutions in Rousse during the National Revival period, emerged and developed depending on the needs of society. Innovators in spirit, open for the achievements of Europe, the citizens of Rousse managed to integrate into the large requirements of their time.