Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Elementary School in Novi Bečej
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Elementary School in Novi Bečej

There is no data regarding the establishment of schools in Novi Bečej in either municipal or church documents, so priests, at the beginning of the twentieth century, attempted to trace back the earliest times based on oral accounts to determine when the schools were founded and began operating. They were somewhat unsuccessful as memories only stretched back to the mid-nineteenth century. Therefore, we are compelled to use general information about schools in Banat, as among these data, there is mention of the existence, but not the year of establishment, of schools in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo.

Although Dr. Jovan Erdeljanović mentions in his book "Serbs in Banat" (page 333) that there is a record in the School Chronicle stating that a school existed in Novi Bečej in 1732, this data is unreliable because such a school chronicle has not been found, especially since everything Erdeljanović noted about Novi Bečej and Vranjevo was based on tradition.

The Elementary School in Novi Bečej is first mentioned in 1758 when Protosyndel Arsenije Radivojević conducted a general visitation of the Temišvar Eparchy. Out of the sixty-nine municipalities he visited, eleven had schools with "master-teachers," of which only Novi Bečej, Melenci, and Kikinda had schools with twenty students each. In all other places where schools existed, there were significantly fewer students. It was noted that teachers' salaries were low, typically three forints per student, and in some municipalities, two veke of wheat. In 1758, Novi Bečej had seventy-three households, while Kikinda and Melenci had the same number of students, but with three hundred households each. Novi Bečej had a relatively large number of students compared to the number of households, probably because students from the nearby Vranjevo, which at that time did not have a school, also attended this school. However, this indicates that Novi Bečej had a better economic foundation, which allowed a larger number of students to attend school compared to Kikinda and Melenci, not to mention other smaller and poorer municipalities. It should be noted that after the settlement of border guards, Vranjevo had 140 households in 1752 and 195 households in 1771. This means that in 1758, when the data on the number of students was taken, there could have been up to 160 households, which, together with Novi Bečej's 73 households, makes a total of 233. Therefore, the economic basis of the Novi Bečej residents probably enabled the education of a larger number of students.

The first teacher mentioned in Novi Bečej in 1758 was Magister Gavril. Magister Petar is also mentioned, with whom the Novi Bečej priest Teodor Popović had previously studied. Pop Teodor became a deacon and a priest on September 19, 1749, which would mean that he had been studying at the school for at least two to three years before that. This suggests that there was a school in Novi Bečej several years earlier and that its first teacher was Magister Petar. In support of this is the information provided by Dositej Obradović in his book "Life and Adventures," stating that his brother Ilija attended school in Čakovo around 1745. If Čakovo already had a school at that time, then Novi Bečej must have had one as well.

Later, Novi Bečej's school is mentioned in censuses from 1768 and 1772, and in the census of 1784/85, it is emphasized that the school building is in good condition and has a separate classroom and accommodation for the teacher. The school was maintained, as stated in the 1784/85 census, and the teacher's salary was paid by the municipality. The teacher was Mihailo Madžarac, who completed a teaching course with Todor Janković in Temišvar. That year, the school had thirty-one students, and the teacher's salary was fifty forints annually in cash, a two-room and kitchen apartment, four acres of land, four pounds of wax, and a hundred bundles of firewood.

The director of Serbian schools, Avram Mrazović, already in 1787, just three years after it was noted that the building was in good condition, wrote in his report that such damage had occurred to the building of the Novi Bečej school that classes could not be held there. Therefore, the county was requested to urgently take steps so that the school could continue its work smoothly at the beginning of the next school year. The teacher's salary in 1787 was seventy forints annually.

A Hungarian school seems to have existed in Novi Bečej sometime in the 1790s. In archival material from 1783, there is a letter addressed to the county requesting to compel the Novi Bečej nobleman to establish a Catholic school and appoint a teacher. Soon, the nobleman Hadžimihajlo replied that he was ready to subsidize a new Catholic teacher if one were trained. It can be assumed that perhaps in that or the following year, the Hungarian elementary school in Novi Bečej started operating. According to Sentklarai, the first Hungarian elementary school was on the banks of the Tisa River, from where it was moved to the location of today's parish house (perhaps between the parish house and the church itself).

From the canonical visitation (census of 1836), it can be seen that the school building was in quite poor condition, but that year the school already had 321 students. The school had three grades. That year, the teacher was Horváth Mihály, thirty-four years old, who spoke Hungarian, Serbian (Illyrian), and German, and also Latin.

According to data, towards the end of the nineteenth century, there were two four-grade Serbian elementary schools in Novi Bečej, one for girls and one for boys. The girls' school had 64 students in the regular and 23 in the repeating class in the 1896/97 school year, while the boys' school had 86 students in the regular and 32 in the repeating class. Both schools (together) had 205 students.

The teachers were Stevan Perišić from Sombor and Darinka Nerandžić, born Brašovan from Vršac. The teachers' salaries were five hundred forints annually and free accommodation.

In just under ten years (1905), the number of students in the Serbian school increased by only eight, from 205 in 1896/97 to 213 in 1905. That year, there were also Serbian children attending "foreign schools" — seventeen of them. These are probably Serbian children attending Jewish or Hungarian elementary schools. That year, the census also mentions a kindergarten, which was not included in the previous census, so it is assumed that it was opened in the meantime. The teachers were: Milan Ćosić, born in Lipova in 1865, with twenty years of experience, eight years in Novi Bečej. He is involved in literature, married, and has two children. He speaks Serbian, Hungarian, and German. Darinka Nerandžić - Brašovan, born in 1870 in Vršac, worked for nineteen years in Novi Bečej for sixteen years, married; she has no children, speaks Serbian, Hungarian, and German.

Between the two World Wars, the elementary school in Novi Bečej had five Serbian and eight Hungarian classes in 1931:

Serbian Classes:
Grade I, 1 class, teacher Leposava Jovanović - 55 students
Grade II, 1 class, teacher Sara Čiplić - 65 students
Grade III, 2 classes, teacher Ana Miok - 41 students, teacher Dušan Gibarac - 44 students
Grade IV, 1 class, teacher Žarko Čaplić - 58 students

Total: 263 students

Hungarian Classes:
Grade I, 3 classes, teacher Ilona Haršanji - 34 students, teacher Ljubica Vujić - 52 students, Šušanj teacher Mihalj Marković - 63 students
Grade II, 2 classes, teacher Bosiljka Puškarević - 66 students, Šušanj teacher Ljubica Vujić - 60 students
Grade III, 2 classes, teacher Marija Pecarski - 62 students, teacher Anka Toranjski - 66 students
Grade IV, 1 class, teacher Milica Glavaški - 74 students

Total: 477 students

Kindergarten:
Serbian Class, kindergarten teacher Paula Konc
Hungarian Class, kindergarten teacher Emilija Bodnar
The school's administrator was Blažo Lazović.

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