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Dar ul-Funun School

Dar ul-Funun School


Darulfonoun School (Dar ul-Funun) is the name of an old school located on Naser Khosrow Street in Tehran by Amir Kabir (1807-1852), the prime minister of Qajar monarch Nasser-al Din Shah (1831-1896). 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 ul-Funun, 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.


Known as the oldest university in Iran, Dar ul-Funun School (“house of knowledge of methods”) in Tehran was first established by the creative endeavor of Amir Kabir during the kingdom of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar. He recognized the country’s essential need of higher education after a trip to Russia. Therefore; after his nomination as the great vizier, he chose a place near the royal place to construct the university The University was opened in 1851, thirteen days before the assassination of Amir Kabir.


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. The teaching establishments’ first instructors were seven professors from Austria. Dar ul-Funun was turned into an official state run university. The dean was the foreign minister of the time, Mirza Mohammad Ali Khan.


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 prime minister. Dar ul-Funun is said to have been inaugurated by Nasser-al Din Shah with 30 students and 13 days before its benefactor, Amir Kabir, was killed in Fin Bath in Kashan.

The original building of Dar ul-Funun consisted of 50 rooms situated around a courtyard, which had a large fountain (howz). The school included a dining hall, physics, chemistry and pharmacology laboratories, a library, and a printing house. The school’s original building was in use for 80 years before it was demolished in 1930 and rebuilt by a Russian architect. 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.


Many parts of the institute were later incorporated and merged into the newly established Tehran University. The Faculty of Medicine for example, was particularly the successor to the Dar ul-Funun Department of Medicine, established in 1851, which had become the School of Medicine in 1919. Many of the departments were incorporated into the University of Tehran from the Dar al-Funun established in 1851 and the Tehran School of Political Sciences established in 1899.

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