News ID: 303234
Published: 0900 GMT May 21, 2021

Dar-ol-Fonoun, first modern institution of higher education in Iran

Dar-ol-Fonoun, first modern institution of higher education in Iran

Dar-ol-Fonoun is the name of an old school located on Naser Khosrow Street in Tehran which was established by Amir Kabir (1807-1852), chief minister to Nassereddin Shah Qajar (1831-1896) in the first three years of his reign.

It is considered the first modern institution of higher education of the country. After a trip to Russia, Amir Kabir realized the country’s dire need for an institute of higher education. To build Dar-ol-Fonoun which was simply known as the ‘new school’ or ‘royal academy, he chose a location close to the royal palace and in place of a former barracks, wrote.

Amir Kabir recruited seven professors and scholars from Austria to teach at the school. These professors arrived in the country two days after his dismissal as chief minister. Dar-ol-Fonoun is said to have been inaugurated by Nassereddin Shah with 30 students and 13 days before its benefactor, Amir Kabir, was killed in Fin Bath in Kashan, Isfahan Province. 

Within three years of Amir Kabir’s appointment as chief minister, in October 1848 the first steps were taken to establish the educational institution that subsequently became known as Dar-ol-Fonoun.

Amir Kabir established this school so that young Iranians could learn modern and military sciences. The main topics taught at the school were geology, medicine, surgery, mathematics, engineering, pharmacy, history, geography and military sciences.

As there were not enough German speakers and translators in the country, courses were taught in French.

New students were required to pass a French proficiency class before they could officially start studying at the school.

Later on Russian and English were added to the languages taught at the school.

Dar-ol-Fonoun School remained open for 80 years and although still applicable, it was wiped out in 1929. In that year, Mirza Yahya Khan, the head of Education Ministry destroyed the university and constructed the current building with a new design under the supervision of Russian engineers.  

The original building of Dar-ol-Fonoun consisted of 50 rooms situated around a courtyard, which had a large fountain. The school included a dining hall, physics, chemistry and pharmacology laboratories, a library, and a printing house.

The new building of the school had 32 classrooms. Many parts of the institute were later merged into the newly established Tehran University. The school’s graduates were among the most influential figures in modern Iranian history.

Dar-ol-Fonoun was in operation until 1978 but after the victory of Islamic Revolution it turned into a teacher training center. The old education center was registered on Iran’s National Heritage List in 1996.  The historical school is now a museum.

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