WATERTOWN — After the independence of the Republic of Armenia, difficult economic and political circumstances led many Armenians to emigrate abroad. Some of them went to Istanbul in order to make a living, but their lives were not easy. Aside from all the basic issues such as housing and employment, those with children had to worry about how to educate them. They began to worry about their Armenian identity and culture being lost in a foreign land. The Hrant Dink School of Istanbul was created to provide a solution but it needs financial support to continue its mission.
Named after the famous assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the school provides the children of natives of Armenia with an Armenian-language education, following the curriculum of schools in Armenia. It includes nursery, kindergarten and grades 1-9 and even provides students with breakfast and lunch. All the teachers are trained in Armenia and use the same textbooks as in Armenia’s schools.
This allows students to go back to Armenia in 9th grade to take an exam. If they pass, they can continue their education there and enroll in Armenian high schools and colleges, thus maintaining their ties with their native land and culture.
The Hrant Dink School is located in the basement of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Gedikpasha, Istanbul. Heriknaz Avagyan is its longtime principal, while its board of volunteers is led by husband-and-wife Arto and Talar Hisarli Horozoğlu. It is a private school, but the parents of the students usually cannot afford to pay full tuition, so it relies on the help it receives from Armenians in Istanbul and abroad.