Education & Culture PDF Print E-mail

Author: Marianna Mastrostamati

Community’s concern for education, training and employment in Alatsata had developed already since the late 18th century. The first community school was established in the early 19th century.

In 1884 the Cultural Association Ερυθραία (Erythraia) was established with a primary goal the intellectual development and moral education of the citizens and the support of schools. The development of the activities of the association, among which there was many amateur theatrical performances were continuous until 1893. Then, the Head of Sanjak of Smyrna Abdurrahman Nureddin Pasha, ordered the dissolution because of mistrust as to its activities. The reason was the gathering of 700 books to for the establishment of a library. The books were seized, transported to Cesme by the Ottoman Police (zaptiedes) and they were locked in a prison cell to go through censorship. The great demand for reading from the prisoners resulted to the exploitation of the books by prison guards. They started receiving small tips for lending the books to prisoners and their gradual sold them at half prices to book lovers from Cesme. The man responsible for the censorship who examined the books finally approved the contents and allowed them to return to Alatsata. Unfortunately, of the 700 books only 70 arrived in Alatsata and they were used enriched the school library.

Before the first persecution of the Greeks in 1914 to schools operating in Alatsata were attended by a total number of 1,570 students, 660 boys at the Boys’ school, the 560 at the Girls’ School while 350 at the kindergartens. Until the year 1922 there were 11 Professional Associations operating in Alatsata. Most of them were established by farmers, professionals and technicians, two elementary schools and one High School with 18 teachers and a total number of 1,072 students. It should be noted that during the years 1920-1922, many families left the city in order for their children to continue their studies in schools that they were enrolled in the places where they stayed during their deportation in 1914 in the absence of senior high school classes in Alatsata. Most of them were sent to the senior high Schools of Chios, Smyrna, Athens, Samos, Constantinople, etc. Since 1887 in Alatsata there were also night schools for working students.

The curriculum and textbooks of the Schools were approved by the Central Education Committee of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. According to community’s regulations, each school had an elected school board formed from the parents of the students which were responsible for the financial and the operational management and the supervision of the schools.

Another important Association was the Φιλόπτωχος Αδελφότης Κυριών (Ladies Philanthropic Sisterhood) which operated between the years 1900 – 1922. Its main activities aimed at the relief of the suffering of poor women and included the financial aid and finding employment to poor women, providing free books and all the necessary material to students of need and to organize educational lectures for women. The Ladies of Sisterhood organized an amateur theatre, performances and musical evenings with guitars and mandolins. Their orchestra made its debut at a reception organized by the Alatsatians to honor Prince Paul of Greece in Litzia.

Artists, painters, and hagiographers were traditionally coming from the family of Vassilakis who managed to transfer the arts to their talented offspring. Their signature adorned the church and private shrines throughout Eritrea.

The cafe and barbershop of Ant. Frangou was gradually formed to literary club in which they used to read in the evenings the “Nouma” [1], the “Journey” of Psichari and the translations of Al. Palli. In 1914 an effort was made to establish a football team which remained at an amateur level and eventually stopped because of the first persecution of 1914.

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