Darüşşafaka Schools

About Us


Darüşşafaka, Turkey’s first non-governmental educational organization changes lives by providing quality education to underprivileged students whose mothers and/or fathers are deceased. It is guided by the mission of Changing Lives through Education, and since 1863 it has provided a modern education for thousands of students at Darüşşafaka Schools. Also it provides a scholarship for students who continue their education at the university.

Align with its mission “lives changed through education”; Darüşşafaka remembers that the development of any country depends on the development of its people. Parents entrust their children to Darüşşafaka Foundation when they are ten years old. The foundation aims to bring up individuals who are adherent to Atatürk principles, life-long learners, inquirers, modern, self-confident and responsible for the society.

Today, around 1000 students are selected from all parts of Turkey based on Darüşşafaka examination result. They have education at Darüşşafaka Schools in Maslak with a full scholarship for boarding education for duration of 9 years. While students at Darüşşafaka are instructed in English, they also actively participate in various social and cultural activities to become fully-equipped for today’s world.


Besides educational expenditures, other needs of students such as clothing, accommodation, nutrition and health services are all covered thanks to donations to the Foundation. It also supports Darüşşafaka graduates by providing scholarships during their university education.

The first donations to the Foundation were rent income of 105 shops at Grand Bazaar. The Foundation has grown continually over the years by donations from craftsmen, senior civil servants and from the community. In the very first years, Foundation published textbooks, supplementary books and materials as part of educational activities. To provide resources to the Foundation, the materials were used as textbooks at Darüşşakafa Schools and many other official schools as well.

Throughout its long history from Ottomans to the Republic, Darüşafaka Foundation continues its existence thanks to the generosity of numerous benefactors. Some notable benefactors include Zübeyde Hanim (Atatürk’s mother), Makbule Atadan (Atatürk’s sister) and Sait Faik (Turkish writer of short stories and poetry).


Under the leadership of Yusuf Ziya Pasa who was a distinguished mathematician, soldier and politician of the era, Veteran Ahmet Muhtar Pasha, Vidinli Tevfik Pasha, Sakizli Ahmet Esat Pasha and Ali Nâki Efendi established the Foundation. Its initial aim was to provide resources for the education of craftsmen at Grand Bazaar. The foundation restored old Valide Mektebi in Beyazıt. Notable scholars, one of whom is Namık Kemal, became volunteer teachers here. Until 1863, people of Ottoman Empire did not construct new buildings for schools; they either used barracks or old mansions. It was the first time in 1863 that a building was constructed to be used as a school. The original school building was designed by Italian architect Barironi and Ohannes Kalfa, the architect of Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul and was constructed in Fatih, Istanbul. The school which allowed coeducation with the latest technology opened its doors on June 29, 1873 under the name of “Darüşşafakat’ül İslamiye” as a private, boarding and non-profit school. Since then, Foundation has been working round the clock to provide resources for the education of Darüşşafaka students.


At the end of 1800s, there were few schools which had a Western style education. Very basic difference which distinguishes Darüşşafaka from other schools is that it adopts the mission of “equal opportunity in education” from the first day of its inception. Other schools accepted children of wealthy families while Darüşşafaka provided opportunities for underprivileged students. Although content of the curriculum, name and location of the school changed according to the needs of the era, Darüşşafaka will never compromise its mission and it will continue to change lives through education in accordance with its mission.


The curriculum has also evolved according to the unique educational needs of each era. For example, once the telegraph was identified as a crucial instrument in the waging of war, Darüşşafaka included telegraph training in its curriculum in order to train qualified telegraph experts to serve the nation in times of conflict. Similarly, Darüşşafaka has also historically served as a School of Education which trained qualified teacher. Quality of education is of paramount importance for Darüşşafaka Schools. Those who graduated from the school between the years 1873 and 1884 were granted college degrees.


Thanks to its mission, Darüşşafaka gains appreciation from all walks of the society. From time to time, notable soldiers, poets, authors, scholars and artists became volunteer teachers at Darüşşafaka to give support such as Namık Kemal, Ressam Agah Efendi, Ahmet Mithat, Salih Zeki and Yahya Kemal Beyatlı.


The first private school, opened by a non-governmental organization, Darüşşafaka provides a full boarding education in English from fourth grade till the end of high school since 1873 to talented, but underprivileged children whose mothers and/or fathers are deceased.

Darüşşafaka accepted students whose fathers are deceased for 149 years. However, amendment in the law on April 14, 2012 allowed students whose mothers deceased to be accepted to the school. Thus, first time in 2012-2013 academic year, students whose mothers deceased were accepted to the school.

After 120 years at the historical campus in Fatih, Istanbul, Darüşşafaka moved to its new and modern campus in Maslak in 1994.  Maximum class size is 24 in Maslak campus. There are seven students for one teacher; there is one computer for every six student. There are projectors, curtains and sound systems in each classroom. Classes such as physics, chemistry and computer are offered in laboratories to ensure that students learn through experience, avoiding reciting. At Darüşşafaka, one of the most respected educational institutions in Turkey, instruction language is English since 1955 and students learn French or German as a second language starting from 6th grade. At Darüşşafaka, social and cultural development is as important as academic development. To this end, there are around 70 student clubs to help students get to know their abilities better and develop them. Depending on their abilities and skills, students learn to play at least one instrument and they are trained in sports since the day they stepped into the world of Darüşşafaka.

For around 100 years, Darüşşafaka accepted male students only; however, in 1971 it opened its doors for female students as well. Today, the ratio of female students and male students are very close to each other.


Darüşşafaka changed lives of thousands of students through education at Darüşşafaka such as Salih Zeki (Mathematician), Prof. Dr. Adnan Sokullu (pioneer of ultrasonography), Mahmut Cûda (painter), Ahmet Rasim (Turkish writer, critic), Vasfi Mahir Kocatürk (writer and literary scholar), Prof. Dr. Rıdvan Cebiroğlu (first child psychiatrist), Mehmet İzzet (Mathematician), Hasan Ferit (finance officer), Ismail Sefa (Turkish writer), Berna Moran (literary critic), Ahmed Avni Konuk (composer), Kazım Uz, Osman Nuri Engin (first urban historian in the history of Republic), İhsan Devrim (actor), Tekin Aral (caricaturist),  Tolga Aşkıner (director), Turgut Yasalar (director),  Necdet Seçkinöz (Presidential Secretary General).


Since its inception, Darüşşafaka accepts students based on their exam scores. Until 2012, Darüşşafaka entrance exam has been eligible for primary school 3th grade students. However, as of 2013, Darüşşafaka entrance exam has been eligible for primary school 4th grade students as result of revised Turkish education system: 4+4+4. With the cooperation of Ministry of National Education, Darüşşafaka receives data of all 4th grade students across Turkey whose mothers or/and fathers are deceased. Later on, Darüşşafaka sends a letter to the parents of students. The letter gives information about the opportunities at Darüşşafaka and invites students to Darüşşafaka entrance examination. There have been fundamental changes in the structure of the exam in 2008.  The current exam system assesses students’ cognitive and creative thinking skills instead of simply testing knowledge of students.

Today there are around 1000 students having education at Darüşşafaka. While 53% of students come from Istanbul, 47% of students come from Anatolia.


In the broader context, Darüşşafaka is comprised of the Darüşşafaka Foundation, Darüşşafaka Schools, Darüşşafaka Residences (Yakacık, Maltepe, Şenesenevler and Urla Residences), Urla Life Unit, Maltepe Special Care Unit and Ömran and Yahya Hamuluoğlu Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Clinic, Darüşşafakalılar Association (Alumni Organization) and Darüşşafaka Sports Club and. The common aim of all is to provide high quality education opportunities thanks to the donations from various supporters. Since the day it was founded, resources of the Foundation come from real property donations, bequest donations, cash donations and in-kind donations.

Darüşşafaka believes that bright future is only possible thanks to the education. To this end, it does not allow any actions which may endanger the trust of benefactors. You can access the website of Darüşşafaka www. darussafaka.org for more information about resources and support programmes.


You can support us by announcing/advertising the campaigns carried out to provide resources to the foundation. Any support will broaden horizons of Darüşşafaka students.


You become our “parent” when you donate around 10.000 TL for annual educational expenditures of one student.

You become our “graduate donor” when you donate around 100,000 for 10-year educational expenditures of 1 student.

You become our “dual degree donors” when you donate 200,000TL for 10-year educational expenditures of 2 students.

You become our “cornerstone” when you donate 500,000 TL

You become our “founder donors” when you donate 1.000.000 TL for 10-year educational expenditures of 10 students.

You could be among the parents of Darüşşafaka students!