We received a call from a donor about two years ago. He said “Everyone should have the same opportunities in life.” He continued “In Turkey, there are still segments of the population that don’t reach the same level of education as the rest. I want to make a difference in my life time so this won’t remain an eternal struggle.” This was music to our ears. We also believed that no one should be discriminated against because of social background, gender, or financial standing. However, the real world seldom lives up to those ideals. Especially equality in education still remains an issue in Turkey. Our donor was an educator and wanted to support college students with financial struggles. He told us about his challenge of finding the right institution. Yet, after a detailed research he believed with its mission of providing “equality in education” Darüşşafaka Society came out as the right organization.
We agreed. Darüşşafaka Society represents what equality in education is in Turkey. Founded in 1863 Darüşşafaka creates a better future for bright and talented children who have lost one of their parents and have limited financial resources. At the age of ten when these children enter into this new world of opportunities, they are not aware that they will have access to quality education at international standards. However, Darüşşafaka Society’s reach was limited with secondary education. Yet, it wasn’t long till our donor was able to convince the board of Darüşşafaka Society with his vision, and “Equal Opportunities in Higher Education” Fund was established at Darüşşafaka through TPF. With this Fund Darüşşafaka is now taking its promises in “equality in education” one step further and providing scholarships to college students. In Turkey access to education exists however, financially less advantaged students, most of the time end up not taking advantage of the opportunity. Darüşşafaka is here to change that. And, it’s doing it with the support of generous and visionary philanthropists.
Darüşşafaka Society was established by a handful of intellectuals who started to share their knowledge in subjects such as mathematics and literature to train young craftsman of the Grand Bazar. Since then, the school building evolved, student profile changed from craftsman to orphans and extra curriculum activities offered increased. One major characteristic that distinguished Darüşşafaka from other schools remained the same: providing equal opportunities in education. Today, students from all around Turkey are admitted with an exam to Darüşşafaka. Their journey starts in 5th grade and continues until they graduate from high school. The curriculum is in English while students also learn French or German as a second language. They spend weekends doing sports and attending cultural activities. They are encouraged to be creative and discover their talents. They are taught to dream big. Not surprisingly, Darüşşafaka graduates continue their education at the best colleges in Turkey and around the Globe, and become successful professionals later on in their lives.
The newly established “Equal Opportunities in Higher Education” Fund is open to all college students with good academic standing and limited financial means who have lost one of their parents. Any student regardless of the major or school is eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients are supported through graduation. Currently, eight students benefit from this opportunity. They are studying Western Languages and Literature at Bosporus University with dreams of being an academician. They have goals of becoming a neurosurgeon after graduating from Istanbul University Medical School. And, with this new opportunity now they have one less challenge in front of them. This fund is the great leveler that enables anyone who works hard to succeed, regardless of income level.
Our donor understands that this scholarship fund is only the beginning. The work continues for all those involved in making sure education remains a tool for greater opportunity and success. If you also believe in creating equal opportunities for disadvantaged children, take a look at Darüşşafaka’s page and become a part of the family.