Sombor is nowadays known for its well preserved historical and urban identity, vigorous greenery and unique cultural and educational heritage, however, the roots of this town can be dated back to the end of the fourteenth century. It was then that an early settlement, Sentmihalj (St. Michael), in the medieval Bodrog county was found on the territory of the today’s town. This settlement belonged to the aristocratic family Cobor, and soon afterwards, the settlement was named after the family. When the fortress and the Dominican convent with a church were built near the end of the fifteenth century, Cobor-Sentmihalj was a settlement that had outgrown its rural environment and become one of the more significant settlements in Bačka of that time. After the Ottoman conquest in 1541, this settlement got its present name, Sombor, as it was an important military, commercial and administrative centre of the Szeged county. The Ottomans withdrew in 1687 and at that time, Sombor became the town of Serbian and Croat (Bunjevci) military frontier regiments. Between 1702 and 1745, Sombor was declared a frontier town on the fontier along the Tisa river. When the military status of Sombor was lost in 1745, people in Sombor began their struggle for obtaining the status of a free imperial city, which lasted three years. This struggle ended on 17th February 1749, when the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa signed the liberating declaration and Sombor became one of the free imperial cities in the Hungarian kingdom. People in Sombor had to pay a high price for this privilege, 150.000 silver forints. This highly paid privilege was not in vain, as it enabled the growth of the town in the next decades in different directions. As a result, Sombor became an important urban, administrative, industrial, cultural and educational centre in the region of Bačka. Since 1786, Sombor is the administrative centre of Bačka, and since 1802, the centre of Bács-Bodrog county.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Sombor was bigger and more developed then Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zagreb or Osijek of that time, judging by the number of inhabitants and the degree of urban development. In Sombor, various cultural and educational institutions were founded or active at that time, such as Serbian School for Training Teachers, Grammar School, Serbian and Hungarian Reading Rooms, The City Library, Theatre, History Society (that was a forerunner of the City Museum), Free Lyceum, Singing Assembly, City Club, and various humanitarian organizations and sport associations. After the Great War, Sombor became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and when the division of the territory into counties was abolished (1925), Sombor became the regional centre of the north-west Bačka.
The long tradition in education was established in Sombor in the second half of the eighteenth century, when the school “Norma” was founded in 1778 in the town. The school was founded by a young, ambitious and well educated Serbian writer and translator, belonging to the Enlightenment, Avram Mrazović, who introduced the first courses in teachers’ training for Serbian teachers in his school. Based on the tradition of this school, closed in 1811, the imperial counsellor and education inspector, Uroš Nestorović opened the first Teachers’ Academy (the Preparandium) in Szentendre, which was later (1816) moved to Sombor. For a long period of time, this was the only academy for teachers’ training in Serbian. The Teachers’ Academy in Sombor offered at the beginning two-year degree programmes, then, since 1871, it offered three-year degree programmes, since 1896, four-year degree programmes and since 1929, five-year degree programmes.
With its high educational standards, the quality of teaching, equipment, facilities and organization, Teachers’ Academy (The Preparandium) in Sombor was the most respected and most distinguished school for training teachers on the Serbian speaking territories and beside Karlovci Grammar School, Novi Sad Grammar School, and Orthodox Seminary it is one of the oldest Serbian schools. This School was alma mater for a plethora of distinguished scholars who made a profound impact on the Serbian culture, education, science, spiritual and social life. Many students, teachers or principals of Teachers’ Academy (The Preparandium), as well as its forerunner “Norma” were part of the intellectual elite of their time. Among them, some people should certainly be mentioned: a pedagogist and educator Avram Mrazović (1756–1826), a representative of the Enlightenment, Uroš Nestorović (1765–1825), a bishop of Bačka and the founder of the Serbian Grammar School in Novi Sad, Gedeon Petrović (1770–1832), the founder of the High School in Belgrade and a close associate of Karađorđe, Jovan Savić [Ivan Jugović] (1772–1813), a writer and the initiator of theaters in Serbia, Joakim Vujić (1772–1847), a writer and the first lexicographer, and the founder of the High School in Belgrade and the Society of Serbian Letters Dimitrije Isailović (1783–1853), the bishop of Bačka and Buda, writer and benefactor, Platon Atanacković (1788–1867), a writer, lawyer, founder and the first President of Matica Srpska Jovana Hadžić (1799–1868), a Serbian patriarch, Samuil Maširević (1803–1870), a bishop of Buda, Arsenije Stojković (1804–1892), a bishop of Karlovac, Teofan Živković (1825–1890), a Serbian patriarch, Georgije Branković (1830–1907), an education reformer, pedagogist, and writer, Nikola Vukićević (1830–1910), a pedagogist, pedagogy historian and writer, Petar Despotović (1847–1917), a pedagogist and writer, Vojislav Vuk Bakić (1847–1929), a writer, scientist and academician, Mita Petrović (1848–1891), a composer, Josif Marinković (1851–1931), a writer and diplomat, Jovan Dučić (1871–1943), a writer, Isidora Sekulić (1877–1958), a psychologist Paja Radosavljević (1879–1958), a composer, Petar Konjović (1886–1972), a revolutionary and one of the assassins in the Assassination at Sarajevo Veljko Čubrilović (1886–1915), a painter and academician, Ivan Radović (1894–1973), a revolutionary and national hero, Žarko Zrenjanin Uča (1902–1942), a writer, Miroslav Josić Višnjić (1946–2015), an actor, Lazar Ristovski (1952), and many others. In the World War 2, three professors and fifty four students of the Teachers’ Academy in Sombor were killed as members of anti-fascist movement.
Teachers’ Academy in Sombor (The Preparandium) was since the beginning a religiously oriented school, and since 1920 it became a state-owned Public Teachers’ Academy and as such was active till 1973. After that, it was transformed into the Pedagogy Academy with a six-year degree programmes (since 1980, Pedagogy Academy became a member of the University of Novi Sad). In summer of 1993, the Pedagogy Academy was transformed into a Teachers’ Training Faculty, which changed its name into Faculty of Education in 2006. This is the only institution of higher education in Sombor and today it has four study programmes on undergraduate and postgraduate studies (teacher, preschool and kindergarten teacher, educational media designer, librarian and information specialist), as well as doctoral studies (Subject Teaching Methodology).
UNIVERSITY OF NOVI SAD
Dr Zorana Đinđića 1 21000 Novi Sad, Srbija