The reforms and social changes experienced by the Arab and Ottoman world in the 19th century are closely related to the effects of colonisation. However, even before that, the Arab and Ottoman world, and in particular Muhammad ’Ali’s Egypt, Ahmad Pasha Bey’s Tunisia, and Lebanon, had already begun a process of state and social reform. Modern teaching practices were in place in these areas well before colonisation, represented by the establishment of military schools and the progressive Sadiki College established in Tunis in 1875.

At the heart of European rivalries, the Arab and Ottoman world was dominated economically and then politically, undergoing profound changes as a result. There had been exchanges between East and West since Antiquity, but the technological revolution of the 19th century and migration, which provided a new way for ideas to be passed on, had a profound effect on society and were instrumental in certain key changes.

All governments at the time regarded education as important and education was key to the emancipation of women. Women’s access to public spaces raised impassioned debate in both Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world.

The consequences of technological revolution were particularly evident in Europe where workers began to organise, to protest through strikes and to gain improvements in working conditions. In the Arab and Ottoman world reform came more slowly. From the mid-19th century, the presence of colonial power in North Africa further hindered progress in local labour reform and rights.

The century also brought discoveries of fundamental importance to humanity. Cholera and typhus epidemics and illnesses such as tuberculosis and syphilis spurred a new generation in scientific research. Advances in hygiene helped to bring disease and child mortality into decline. There was considerable interaction between Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world in this area.

School of North African girls directed by Mme Luce. Studying.

Taken from L'Algerie Phtographiée, vol. 2, Province d'Alger


National Library of France , Paris, France

Félix Jacques Antoine Moulin

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