Darüşşafaka Society was established in 1863 by five leading Ottoman figures who believed that each and every child has the right to receive quality education. The school which provided education to needy children who had lost their fathers, opened its doors in 1873 in Istanbul.
Darüşşafaka is the first NGO in Turkish history in the field of education and for the last 155 years strived to fulfill the mission of “equal opportunity in education”. Darüşşafaka offers this very basic right of access to education, as expressly put forth in the United Nations Human Rights Declaration, to its students through an exam that is conducted fairly.
English was adopted as the primary academic language in 1955, marking a significant milestone in Darüşşafaka’s history. The first graduates of English education graduated in 1962.
Female students were admitted to Darüşşafaka for the first time in 1971.
In 2012, Darüşşafaka opened its doors to children who have lost their mothers and since 2012-2013 academic year, children whose mothers and/or fathers have deceased are eligible to enter the Darüşşafaka exam.