When Tehran University was founded in February 1935 the literature and science sections of Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī were merged with the new faculties of letters and sciences respectively. Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī thus virtually lost its independence. Thenceforth prospective teachers took the entrance examination for one of these faculties.




Dānešgāh-e tarbīat-e moʿallem, the oldest institution for educating teachers in Persia, was founded as Dār al-moʿallemīn-e markazī (see xviii, above) in Tehran in 1336/1918. It has gone through various phases and changes of name since. Its purpose was to train primary-school teachers, and the curriculum was equivalent to that of a secondary school. In addition, courses in philosophy, logic, and principles of education were offered (Rāhnemā-ye Dānešgāh, p. 5). In the same year, eight secondary and forty primary schools were also established in Tehran and its suburbs (Ṣadīq, 1336 Š./1957, p. 350). As the number of such schools rapidly increased, the demand for trained teachers rose. In the academic year 1926-27 total enrollment was 307, and the faculty numbered thirty (Taʿlīm o tarbīat 3/11-12, 1306 Š./1927, p. 554).

In October 1928, when the Persian system of secondary education was reorganized under Reżā Shah (1925-41; see x, above), Dār al-moʿallemīn was transformed into an institution of higher education, Dār al-moʿallemīn-e ʿālī. The Majles (parliament) also passed an act providing grants for poorer students, with the proviso that after completion of their studies they be employed in secondary schools at 680 rials a month (Ṣadīq, 1345 Š/1966, p. 95). The college was divided into two sections, for science and literature. The former included departments of natural sciences, mathematics, and physics and chemistry. The literature section comprised the two departments of philosophy and Persian literature and history and geography. Three years of study were required for a B.A. degree. In 1931 fifty of about 300 secondary-school graduates in the country entered Dār al-moʿallemīn-e ʿālī. Such respected Persian scholars as Aḥmad Bahmanyār, ʿAbbās Eqbāl, Badīʿ-al-Zamān Forūzānfar, and Maḥmūd Ḥesābī (qq.v.) taught there, but even so not enough Persian teachers were available, and a few French instructors were also hired (Ṣadīq, 1345 Š./1966, p. 94). In March 1932 ʿĪsā Ṣadīq, a noted educator and a graduate of the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia University in New York, was appointed director. He immediately moved the institution into larger quarters, in the Negārestān (once a Qajar palace), to permit establishment of library, laboratory, and sports facilities. In the following year the institution was renamed Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī. Ṣadīq worked hard to modernize it. In accordance with a ruling by the Ministry of Education (Wezārat-e maʿāref; Taʿlīm o tarbīat 4/7-81313 Š./1934, p. 512), he also introduced such new subjects as foundations of the secondary-school system, principles of education, philosophy of education, history of education, educational sociology, and developmental psychology (Ṣadīq, 1345 Š./1966, p. 109). Beginning in 1934 graduates received the B.A. or B.S. degree. In 1935 women were admitted for the first time; the next year 19 percent of the students were women (Taʿlīm o tarbīat 6/12, 1315 Š./1936, p. 885).

When Tehran University was founded in February 1935 the literature and science sections of Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī were merged with the new faculties of letters and sciences respectively. Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī thus virtually lost its independence. Thenceforth prospective teachers took the entrance examination for one of these faculties. In addition to the standard curricula of the faculties, teacher trainees had to take at least three extra courses in education and psychology (Taʿlīm o tarbīat 6/12, 1315 Š./1936, p. 883). In return for small grants these students undertook to teach for a five-year period for the Ministry of Education (Majmūʿa-ye qawānīn-e 1312, pp. 168-70). The program of studies, which included five subjects in 1934 (Taʿlīm o tarbīat 4/7-8, 1313 Š./1934, p. 381), was increased to nine in 1938, when archeology, foreign languages, and physical education were added and philosophy and Persian literature were separated into two independent fields (Āmūzeš o parvareš 8/5-6, 1317 Š./1938, pp. 92-96).

In 1940 Ṣadīq left, having built the library from 2,775 to 12,000 volumes. He was succeeded by Walī-Allāh Naṣr (d. 1946), who in 1942 was succeeded in turn by ʿAlī-Akbar Sīāsī (d. 1990); Sīāsī remained until 1956 (Dānešsarā, pp. 9, 21). The institute regained its full independence through an act adopted by the Majles in 1959. From the beginning of this new phase, the Dānešsarā was directed by Dr. Ḵānbābā Bayānī (Dānešsarā, p. 9), and its operations, which had spread out from the Negārestān into several other buildings as well, were consolidated in a single, larger building, formerly a hotel. During this period evening and summer classes were introduced, originally for in-service teachers who lacked university degrees (Rāhnemā-ye Dānešsarā, pp. 22-23). Eighteen subjects were offered at the Dānešsarā; physical education, home economics, and primary education were apparently offered at the B.A. level for the first time in Persia. In 1961 the unit-credit system was introduced, and the academic year was divided into two semesters (Rāhnemā-ye Dānešsarā, p. 23).

After July 1962 the college was directed briefly by Maḥmūd Ṣanāʿī (d. October 1985) and, beginning in October, by Esmāʿīl Fīlsūfī. Within a year Fīlsūfī had replaced the evening M.A. program with a daytime course in teaching, preparing qualified teachers in various disciplines for secondary schools (Dānešsarā, p. 18). He also limited the subjects taught to twelve: Persian literature, English, French, history and geography, philosophy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, natural sciences, psychology and educational sciences, physical education, and primary education. Home economics was dropped (Dānešsarā, pp. 22, 30). In 1963 the college was dissolved by government decree and replaced by Sāzmān-e tarbīat-e moʿallem wa taḥqīqāt-e tarbīatī (Organization for Teachers’ Education and Educational Research), directed by the deputy minister for education ʿAbd-Allāh Šaybānī. The new organization encompassed a teachers’-training institute, an institute for training superintendents and educational advisers, and an institute for educational studies and research. In the summer of 1967 an institute of mathematics was added, and Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī once again became a separate institution. After 1968 it was placed under the supervision of the newly created Ministry of Sciences and Higher Education (Wezārat-e ʿolūm o āmūzeš-e ʿālī) and a year later under the authority of a board of trustees (Majmūʿa-ye qawānīn-e 1347, pp. 437-39). At that time the college consisted of twelve departments (Persian language and literature, foreign languages, history, geography, educational sciences, psychology, social sciences, physical education, physics, chemistry, natural sciences [biology and geology], and mathematics). In addition, two graduate programs were offered: guidance and counseling, leading to an M.A. degree, and mathematics, leading to an M.Sc. degree (Dāneš-āmūḵtegān, p. 7).

In August 1974, upon a recommendation by the Ministry of Sciences and Higher Education, the college was granted university status and renamed Dānešgāh-e tarbīat-e moʿallem; Moḥammad Mašāyeḵī was its first chancellor. The existing departments were grouped into three faculties.

In order to expand the teachers’-training program at the national level, in October 1974 the first provincial branch was established: Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī at Zāhedān, under the direction of Majd-al-Dīn Keyvānī. It was the first institute of higher education ever established in the province of Sīstān and Balūčestān. Similar branches were established in Sanandaj in the same year, in Arak in 1975, and in Yazd in 1976. In 1982 Madrasa-ye ʿālī-e ʿolūm was established as a branch in Kāšān. Additional new branches were opened in Sabzavār in 1987 and in Tabrīz in early 1989. More recently the provincial branches have sought independence from the mother institution in Tehran, most achieving their objective by 1993. Those in Zāhedān and Sanandaj were soon merged with local universities, however. In 1995 the Dānešgāh-e tarbīat-e moʿallem consisted of five faculties and two institutes in the capital alone.

In 1974 the university initiated a program of sending a number of qualified graduates abroad for advanced study each year (Rāhnemā-ye Dānešsarā, p. 9). After returning to Persia these students were to be employed by Dānešgāh-e tarbīat-e moʿallem as instructors or assistant professors. This program remained in operation until the revolution of 1979, when it was temporarily suspended; it was revived on a smaller scale two years later.

Since the revolution there has been a marked increase in the number of graduate programs. At present M.A. or M.Sc. courses are offered in Persian literature, English, guidance and counseling, curriculum planning, geology, biology, and mathematics. In addition, a doctoral program in mathematics was instituted in 1988 and another in educational sciences in the following year. The library houses 66,677 books and receives 210 journals, Persian and foreign. There are laboratories for botany, biology, geology, physics, chemistry, language, audiovisual programs, and psychology on the campus. The faculty of physical education has a large stadium with playing fields, swimming pools, and athletic equipment at Dāwūdīya in northern Tehran. Extracurricular programs, including theater, painting, calligraphy, speech, Koran recitation, and educational and cultural tours, are generally directed by Jehād-e dānešgāhī (University Jehād), created in 1981. The students receive grants in exchange for government work where they are needed.

For the numbers of students, graduates, and faculty members since 1922-23, see Table 1.



Āmār-e āmūzeš-e ʿālī,1347-68, 18 vols., Tehran, 1351-70 Š./1972-91.

Dānešsarā-ye ʿalī, 1341-42, Tehran, n.d. Majmūʿa-ye qawānīn-e 1312, Tehran, n.d.; 1347, Tehran, n.d.

M. Moʿīn, ed., Farhang-e fārsī, 6 vols., Tehran, 1342-52 Š./1963-73.

Rāhnemā-ye Dānešgāh-e tarbīat-e moʿallem1354-55 Š., Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.

Rāhnemā-ye Dānešsarā-ye ʿālī1339-40, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961.

ʿĪ. Ṣadīq, Tārīḵ-e farhang-e Īrān, Tehran, 1336 Š./1957.

Idem, Yādgār-e ʿomr, 3 vols., Tehran, 1345 Š./1966.

(Majd-al-Dīn Keyvānī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 9, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 2, pp. 221-223