ANJOMAN-E MAʿĀREF (the Society or Council of Education), a society founded in Šawwāl, 1315/February-March, 1898 under the patronage of the then prime minister Ḥāǰǰ Mīrzā ʿAlī Khan Amīn-al-dawla (q.v.) in order to promote the cause of Western-type education in Iran. Also called Anǰoman-e Taʾsīs-e Makāteb-e Mellīya-ye Īrān (Society for Founding National Elementary Schools in Iran), it served as a nucleus from which developed a number of scientific and educational institutions.
The society’s aims are not stated in any historical records or official documents but can be inferred from its activities as: to found and develop new schools after the European models for training an educated class of administrative personnel; to promote research and publication, and sponsor translations of useful European books; to create public libraries on Western lines; and to organize classes for adults.
The need for modern schools and an organized system of universal education had been felt in Iran for some time, even among some of the Shiʿite clergy. The appointment of Amīn-al-dawla, an active supporter of “modern” education, to the premiership encouraged the reformist-minded intellectuals. Amīn-al-dawla’s patronage was responsible for the establishment of the Rošdīya school in Tehran by Ḥāǰǰ Mīrzā Ḥasan Rošdīya (Ramażān, 1315/January-February, 1899), the management of which with the help of a board of trustees provided a model. At the same time Mīrzā Karīm Khan Savādkūhī Montaẓem-al-dawla (later Sardār-e Mokarram), after obtaining the prime minister’s permission to establish a home and school for orphans (dār al-aytām) proceeded in Raǰab, 1315/November, 1897 to set up an orphanages council with an education-minded membership. A dispute between Rošdīya, the principal, and the board that worked with him prompted Amīn-al-dawla to order the formation of an anǰoman. A list of candidates was prepared by Eḥtešām-al-salṭana and presented to Amīn-al-dawla for confirmation, and thus the Anǰoman-e Maʿāref was born with seven original members: the chairman MahÂ¡mūd Khan Eḥtešām-al-salṭana, a son of a former minister of the royal court and a graduate of the Dār al-Fonūn (he was later elected speaker of the first parliament); Sayyed Yaḥyā Dawlatābādī (who later became well-known as a reformist and advocate of modern education); Jaʿfar-qolī Khan Nayyer-al-molk, then Minister of Science (ʿolūm) and principal of Dār al-Fonūn; Maḥmūd Khan Meftāḥ-al-molk; ʿAlī Khan Nāẓem-al-ʿolūm; Mahdī Khan Momtaḥen-al-dawla, a Paris graduate in architecture then employed as a Foreign Ministry official and ʿAbbās Khan Mohandes-bāšī. According to Dawlatābādī (Ḥayāt-e Yaḥyā I, p. 188), Eḥtešām-al-salṭana, desiring to keep the Anǰoman outside the direct control of the government, had deliberately excluded the name of Nayyer-al-molk from the original list of candidates, but it was added by Amīn-al-dawla when the list was shown to him. Later the membership rose to thirty, including Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Nāẓem-al-aṭebbāʾ, the author of Farhang-e Nafīsī; Mīrzā Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Adīb Kāšānī, Sayyed Ḥosayn Khan Neẓām-al-ḥokāmāʾ; ʿAlī-Moḥammad Khan Moǰīr-al-dawla Kāšānī, the editor of the paper Īrān; Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Khan Adīb-al-dawla, the assistant principal of Dār al-Fonūn; Sardār Fīrūz, then commandant of the arsenal; Moḥammad-Bāqer Khan Eʿtemād al-salṭana, the Minister of the Press (Wazīr-e enṭebāʿāt); Ḥāǰǰ Mīrzā Ḥasan Amīn-al-żarb and his son Ḥāǰǰ Mīrzā Ḥosayn (qq.v.); Mīrzā Esmāʿīl Khan Aǰūdān-bāšī; Shaikh Mahdī Moẓaffarī Kāšānī; Dr. ʿEnāyatallāh Khan; Shaikh Mahdī Šams-al-ʿolamāʾ; Moʾtamen-al-aṭebbāʾ; Mīrzā Ebrāhīm Saʿīd-al-ʿolamāʾ.
Donations were received from Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah (2,000 tomans) and Amīn-al-dawla (12,000 tomans) and the Anǰoman held its first session in Šawwāl, 1315/February-March, 1898. Sessions were held weekly at the school of Rošdīya until a dispute over the indiscriminate spending of school funds by Rošdīya, which had started almost immediately and kept worsening, made the Anǰoman hold its fifth meeting elsewhere at the home of Nayyer-al-molk (Dawlatābādī, Ḥayāt-e Yaḥyā I, pp. 188-93). In order to curtail the funds available to Rošdīya who, relying on the patronage of Amīn-al-dawla, resented the supervision of his school by the Anǰoman (ibid.), the Anǰoman decided to found another school. This new school, called ʿElmīya, was officially dedicated in Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa, 1315/May, 1898, and soon led to the opening of other schools (Dawlatābādī, op. cit., pp. 193-98).
The first period of the Anǰoman-e Maʿāref’s existence lasted less than three years but was marked by the following achievements: 1. foundation of schools named ʿElmīya, Eftetāḥīya, Dāneš (a completely free school funded by Reżā Khan Arfaʿ-al-dawla and run by Meftāḥ-al-molk), Šaraf (Rabīʿ II, 1316/August-September, 1898), and Moẓaffarīya (Jomādā II, 1316/September-October, 1898); 2. foundation of a Western-type public library (ketāb-ḵāna-ye mellī) which in a short period collected more than l,000 volumes and was put under the directorship of Esmāʿīl Khan Āǰūdān-bāšī (ibid., pp. 222, 239). Later this library was renamed Ketāb-ḵāna-ye Maʿāref, while some of its books were transferred to the National Library (Ketāb-ḵāna-ye Mellī); 3. organization of adult classes on the Anǰoman’s premises under the direction of Mīrzā Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Adīb Kāšānī. These could only be kept going for a few months; 4. establishment of a publication and translation firm named Šerkat-e Ṭabʿ-e Ketāb (Book Printing Company) with a capital of 10,000 tomans. The firm, independent of the Anǰoman from the outset, employed Mīrzā Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Forūḡī Ḏokāʾ-al-molk, his son Moḥammad-ʿAlī Forūḡī (later an eminent writer and statesman), and Mīrzā Moḥammad Qazvīnī (later an eminent scholar) for the compilation, translation, and publication of useful books. It successfully brought out a number of history books and school textbooks; 5. publication of a fortnightly journal named Rūz-nāma-ye maʿāref, which provided news relating to modern education. The first issue came out in Šaʿbān, 1316/December, 1898.
After the dismissal of Amīn-al-dawla in Ṣafar, 1316/June, 1898, the premiership reverted to Mīrzā ʿAlī-Aṣḡar Khan Amīn-al-solṭān, who was not so well-disposed to new thinking and social awakening. At the same time frictions arose within the Anǰoman-e Maʿāref. Meftāḥ-al-molk and Momtaḥen-al-dawla, because of grudges unrelated to the affairs of the Anǰoman, were conspiring to remove the chairman Eḥtešām-al-salṭana, who was hot-tempered and not always respectful of the dignity of other members. Meftāḥ-al-molk, who was the Anǰoman’s secretary (daftardār o mohrdār), spent part of its funds on the Eftetāḥīya school which he had founded, and the matter leaked out. Eḥtešām-al-salṭana had also antagonized Nayyer-al-molk by suggesting that Dār al-Fonūn should be placed under Anǰoman’s control (ibid., p. 224). Taking advantage of this discord, Meftāḥ-al-molk got Eḥtešām-al-salṭana’s opponents to sign a letter accusing their chairman of disloyalty to the monarchy, and managed with Amīn-al-solṭān’s help to bring the letter to Moẓaffar-al-dīn Shah’s notice. The Shah then issued a decree whereby all state educational institutions were to be placed under the supervision of the Minister of Science, and on the strength of this decree Nayyer-al-molk indicated that the Anǰoman-e Maʿāref would have to close (ibid., pp. 228-35); but when Eḥtešām-al-salṭana resigned, Meftāḥ-al-molk was made chairman of the Anǰoman with Amīn-alsolṭān’s backing. Before long, however, reports in Tehran newspapers about the spending of the Anǰoman’s funds on the Eftetāḥīya school led to the Meftāḥ-al-molk’s resignation. This took place in 1318/1900 and in effect meant the end of the society and its work.
A new Anǰoman-e Maʿāref was formed on 12 Moḥarram 1319/1 May 1901, the members being Nayyer-al-molk and his son Reżā-qolī Khan, Moḵber-al-salṭana Hedāyat, Mīrzā Ḥasan Mošīr-al-molk, and Ḥāǰǰ Mīrzā Yaḥyā Dawlatābādī. It did not enjoy the favor of Amīn-al-solṭān and was unable to accomplish anything useful.
When this second Anǰoman broke up, Amīn-al-solṭān appointed a High Council of Education (Šūrā-ye ʿĀlī-e Maʿāref), composed of a number of his protégés, including foreigners in the service of the government, and designed to make it appear that he was not averse to educational progress and popular awakening; but no practical help for education ensued.
“Tārīḵča-ye maʿāref-e Īrān,” Maǰalla-ye taʿlīm o tarbīat 4/6. Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Afżal-al-molk, Afżal al-tawārīḵ, ed.
M. Etteḥādīya (Neẓām Māfī) and S. Saʿdvandīān, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982 (events of the year 1316 Q.).
ʿAlī Khan Amīn-al-dawla, Ḵāṭerāt-e sīāsī, ed.
Ḥ. Fafmānfarmāʾīān, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.
Y. Dawlatābādī, Tārīḵ-e moʿāṣer yā ḥayāt-e Yaḥyā, 4 vols., Tehran, 1331 Š./1952, I, pp. 185-313 (the main source of the history of the Anǰoman-e Maʿāref).
M. Eḥtešām-al-salṭana, Ḵāṭerāt . . . (ms. in the possession of the writer of the article).
Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, Tārīḵ-e moʾassasāt-e tamaddonī-e ǰadīd dar Īrān, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975, I, pp. 369-97.
M. Mosāḥeb, ed., Dāʾerat al-maʿāref-e Fārsī, s.v. Anǰoman. Nāẓem-al-eslām Kermānī, Tārīḵ-e bīdārī-e Īrānīān, 1st ed., Tehran, 1328 Š./1910, p. 174.
M. Ṣadr Hāšemī, Tārīḵ-e ǰarāʾed wa maǰallāt-e Īrān IV, Isfahan, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 220-22.
Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: August 5, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 1, pp. 86-88