Topkapı Levon Vartuhyan Private School of Fatih, Istanbul

Istanbul Armenian Schools in Serious Financial Crisis


ISTANBUL (NorMarmara, Jamanak, Agos, Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul) – The coronavirus epidemic has shaken the Istanbul-Armenian community and especially its educational institutions, which have limited revenues and whose budget deficits are reaching significant proportions. The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul issued a directive concerning those schools which have applied to the Patriarchate for help.

Bezciyan Armenian School of Kumkapı

The Patriarchate brought this situation to the attention of the Turkish-Armenian Association of Vakifs [Religious Foundations] on April 30, stressing that immediate joint action is necessary. In connection with this communication from the Patriarchate, Bedros Shirinoghlu, the chairman of the association, appealed to the leaders of all these Armenian institutions. The importance of having detailed financial reports from the schools requiring assistance was noted.

Sahakyan Nunyan Armenian School of Samatya (Fatih), Istanbul

The chairmen of the parish councils of four schools which require immediate aid, those of the Kumkapı Cathedral and the Samatya, Feriköy and Topkapı churches, held a meeting at the Patriarchate on May 7 to develop a common plan.

Merametciyan Armenian School of Feriköy

They will submit reports of their financial situation as quickly as possible to the Patriarchate and the Vakifs Association. Then the latter’s executive council will hold a meeting conforming to the requirements of COVID-19 social distancing to discuss these reports. The council is composed of 21 members. A committee will be formed to evaluate the reports.

All community and parish bodies will be asked to present statements of their revenues so that it can be determined what resources are available.

A working committee will be formed to determine, based on the economic situation, whether to join the schools together, close them or keep them in equilibrium. This committee will be formed of experts and philanthropists. It will conduct its investigations on open platforms accessible to the public and present its results to the executive of the Vakifs Association.

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The agenda will include the unemployment and economic issues created by the coronavirus epidemic as well as other community matters. In addition, work will be conducted to form an economic aid committee.

Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor of the Istanbul-Armenian newspaper Jamanak Ara Kochunyan wrote on March 16 that it is worrisome that the Patriarchate is publicly writing about the possibility of school closures.

He pointed out that the schools had been in poor shape for some time, and individuals had suggested various solutions, but no action had been taken. The epidemic merely brought this crisis to a head. He hoped that the crisis could serve as an opportunity to strengthen the community by coming together and improving the communal administrative bodies, which have not been working effectively for a long time, in a just and fair way.

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