Discovering Novi Bečej: Stories, people, history

By the paths of the past: Discover the rich history, interesting events and unforgettable people who have shaped Novi Bečej through time, as we return together to the heart of this beautiful city on the banks of the Tisza.

Explore Novi Becej's history


In addition to the elementary school in Novi Becej, there was also an elementary school in Vranjevo. While the existence of the Novi Becej school is known since 1758, the exact start date of its operation is unclear. On the other hand, the first written record for the Vranjevo school dates back to 1768. It is certain that the school in Vranjevo started operating later than the one in Novi Becej, as Vranjevo began to be settled only in 1751 by the residents of the disarmed Potisje region (Old Becej residents), and by 1752, it already had 240 Serbian households.

In 1758, the elementary school in Novi Becej had 20 students, taught by Magister Gavril. In the school census of 1768 and 1772, the local school building was in good condition, with a separate classroom and a residence for the teacher. The teacher's salary in 1784 was 50 forints annually, along with a 2-room and kitchen apartment, four acres of land, four pounds of candles, and 100 bundles of reeds for heating.

As for the Vranjevo school, the school census of 1773 notes that it was among the better Serbian schools, with 18 students. In addition to reading, writing, and religious education, students there also learned arithmetic. After ten years, in 1783, this school had 30 students, and the teacher, Nićifor Uvalić, had the required professional qualifications. The teacher's salary included 60 forints in cash, a 3-room apartment, 4 acres of plowed land, and 240 bundles of reeds for heating. By 1787, Vranjevo had 248 Serbian households, so the teacher received a Class II salary of 90 forints annually.

The elementary school in Novi Becej, during the period in question, used classrooms of the Civic School (now the "Miloje Čiplić" school) and had three additional buildings: Čiplić's school next to the Orthodox church, Miss Lepa's school (teacher Lepa Jovanović) on Jaša Tomić Street, in the lower part, and in Šušanj on Radnička Street, there was a school with Hungarian as the teaching language for the first and second grades.

Vranjevo had 12 buildings that housed classrooms for the elementary school and residences for teachers. These classrooms were called schools, named after the surname of the teacher who lived and worked in them for many years, such as Nikšić's school, Motokova, and others.

In the current building of the "Miloje Čiplić" school, besides the elementary school, there were also the Civic School and the gymnasium. The ground floor and the first floor housed the Civic and elementary school, and the Civic School included the basement with several offices and workshops for the manual work of students. The woodworking workshop, in particular, was well-equipped. The gymnasium had eight classrooms with a teachers' lounge and the director's office on the second floor.

The Civic School in Novi Becej began operating on September 6, 1908, with the first male and female classes in the building of the large landowner (spahi) Dunđerski, located on the main street. In June 1909, the municipality bought land for the construction of the new Civic School, and construction began immediately. By December 8, 1910, the Civic School was moved to the new building and started regular classes. In the 1911/12 school year, there were four classes for the female and four for the male Civic School. From the fall of 1921, the school operated as a mixed Civic School with four classes and around 160 students. The number of students remained the same in 1931 (163 students).

Civil School essentially represented a lower secondary school with a somewhat different curriculum than the lower grades of a gymnasium. It was intended to serve the education of urban children, preparing them for crafts and trade professions. After completing the fourth grade of the civil school with a small graduation exam, students could continue their education in secondary vocational schools: trade academy, technical school, teacher training school, etc. Students of the civil school couldn't enroll in higher grades of the gymnasium. Most children from Novi Becej and Vranjevo left formal education after the fourth grade of elementary school, and those who continued usually went to the civil school. An exception was made for children of wealthier parents, who were directed towards university studies from elementary school, and they enrolled in the gymnasium.

In 1924, a gymnasium was established in Novi Becej, essentially a relocated gymnasium from Zombol when Zombol was ceded to Romania in 1923 in exchange for Jasa Tomic and Meda.

The Novi Becej gymnasium was private with general public rights, meaning it had the same rights as state-owned gymnasiums, and students had equal rights. The difference was that this school charged a monthly tuition fee, depending on the financial status of students' parents. All students paid tuition except for the poorest, whose parents were not taxpayers. There were very few such students, mostly six to seven students in the entire gymnasium. Impoverished families couldn't afford to educate their children, sending them to work as servants or apprentices instead.

To attract more students, crucial for its survival, the Novi Becej gymnasium had more lenient criteria for evaluating students' knowledge compared to state gymnasiums. This is noteworthy because, in addition to students from Novi Becej and Vranjevo, Kumane, Melenaci, Beodra, Dragutinovo, Stari Becej, there were also students from Velika Kikinda and Veliki Becerek, even though these cities had state gymnasiums. Students in higher grades of the gymnasium contributed, among other things, to the improvement of the quality of Novi Becej football. "Jedinstvo" had several good players from Melenaci, Becerek, and Kikinda, who were gymnasium students in Novi Becej.

According to the report for the 1929/30 school year, the gymnasium had only five grades from 4th to 8th with 128 students and 10 professors.

Opposite the civil school was a Russian girls' gymnasium with a boarding school. Now, in that building, there is a high school in Novi Becej. The complete Russian girls' gymnasium was actually a school for children of Russian emigrants who fled after the October Revolution from the Soviet Union, and it was called the Kharkov Institute. The school was the only one of its kind in the country, meaning all Russian girls from Yugoslavia attended it.

The Kharkov Institute was opened in Kharkov in 1912, then relocated in 1919 with all students and staff to Yugoslavia in March 1920, being placed in Novi Becej. The Institute was recognized as an eight-year real gymnasium. The school had 200-300 female students, a considerable number for the time. In addition to the school building, given that students came from various places, there was a boarding school that consumed a significant amount of food and other goods. Due to the large number of students, besides the building housing the gymnasium and the boarding school, other buildings were also used. For some classrooms, a building on the corner of Lole Ribara and Brigadir Ristic, owned by Dura Pavlovic and now housing the store of the "Potisje" trading company, was used. The kitchen and dining room of the boarding school were in the building of today's gymnasium "Miloje Ciplic." According to data from the school report for the 1930/1931 school year, this gymnasium had 211 female students with 19 teachers and professors.

In 1931, due to the onset of the Great Depression, the Russian girls' gymnasium moved to Bela Crkva in Banat.

The students contributed to the liveliness of Novi Becej in their own way. In the morning, when going to school and around noon when leaving, the main street was filled with students. There were just as many students in the afternoon. They had more time than other employed young people, so going out into the street was their entertainment. There were particularly many student-passengers on the dolma and in Gradiste, where they spent their free time from leaving school until the departure of the train or the small boat.

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