Abadan Apprentice Training Center Becomes Museum

Tuesday, July 4, 2017Abadan Apprentice Training Center Becomes Museum

Abadan Apprentice Training Center is expected to be inaugurated as the second museumof petroleum in the near future. It will be second to Abadan filling station museum.

The training center was established in 1934 by Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) to train specialized human resources. Its built-up area was first 5,000 square meters, which was then developed to 11,000 square meters.

The training center was active until two decades ago. Now it is set to open once more thanks to efforts by Abadan Oil Refining Company and the Directorate of Museums and Documents Center. This time it is not to serve as a training center, but as a museum.

Here we have conducted an interview with Mohammad-Reza Javaheri, advisor to director of museums and documents center to discuss collection of documents and objects at this new museum of petroleum.

Q: Mr Javaheri! The history of this training center justifies its selection as a museum. But the question here is to know which strategy has been defined for this museum and which challenges this museum is poised to face?

A: In response to your question I have to say that given the role of the training center in the education of specialized forces in the country, particularly training experts for the refinery, it was decided that the main topic of this museum be the issue of training in petroleum industry. As you know the objects in a museum are arranged based on the subject envisaged for it. Regarding the vocational training center in Abadan it should be said that the history, identity and workflow were unclear at the beginning. Furthermore, there was insufficient information available on the building. Therefore, in collaboration with the staff of Abadan Oil Refining Company and experts of petroleum industry documents center and veterans who had once studied or taught at this training center, we gathered necessary information. This information was gathered here and there verbally or in written in documents held all across different sections of the refinery or at the petroleum industry documents' center.


Q: It seems that there were no cohesive documents available about the background of the training center.

A: Unfortunately that is so and the documents gathered at this center respond only party to questions and ambiguities. There are still many questions that have gone unanswered due to lack of enough information and documents. For instance, we don't know when the training center started work, when it was built and what its main name was. Of course, we guess that the establishment of this training center dates back to 1933 and in different documents it has been referred to as Artisan School, Training School, Apprentice School, Technical and Vocational School, etc. The central committee of the school was like its beating heart. Apprentices used to sit behind these systems and learn how to work with them with the help of Iranian and foreign teachers.

Q: How will this atmosphere be sketched out for the audience and visitors?

A: In the central workshop, between 8 and 16 training workshops have been installed during different periods of time. We have picked 10 workshops and identified relevant objects and documents and arranged them. Among disciples taught at these workshops were electricity, construction, mechanics, turning, welding, drafting, pipe connections, accounting, typesetting, surveying. Specialized equipment and tools were used to teach apprentices. Of course there is not yet precise statistics available about the number of objects at this training center, but experts have managed to identify more than 2,111 relevant and irrelevant objects over the past two years and codify them, some of which will be held in archives or sent to other museums because of being unnecessary. For the time being, 200 specialized devices have been arranged in relevant workshops and their data has been extracted. These devices are made in England, U.S. and Iran. Among other measures carried out here has been the preparation of rooms, which number eight. In the past, each of these rooms belonged to the directors and teachers of one or several workshops. We are currently in the process of identifying and arranging photos, documents and relevant objects for each of these rooms.


As far as the devices are concerned I should note that their extracted data is divided into four categories. Some of them are general information about the devices, their schema and components, images of apprentices while working on them, catalogues and instructions about how to work with them. Such information will be available near devices and open to the public. Among important measures that have been done regarding equipment of workshops and their renovation to have their original shape we can refer to the reparation of wooden and paper tableaux that showed how to work with the devices. So far, more than 34 of such tableaux have been identified.

Q: Was the training center only for training purposes or it incorporated manufacturing activities too?

A: Nothing was produced at this center. Skilled manpower was trained there. Of course in certain periods some refinery equipment might have been sent to this training center for reparation.

Q: What were the criteria for entering this training center, duration of education and entering the refinery?

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A: The ambiguities we are facing at this phase are education cycles and their duration. It seems that students could enter this training center after finishing their primary school. In certain cases, they could enter the center after concluding their middle school. The training periods were sometimes three years and sometimes two years. And then some were selected from among them to work at the refinery.

The apprentices had to work still as apprentices for two years at the refinery. What is evident is that entry into the training school faced some restrictions. It could accommodate up to 100 people per year and therefore their GPA had to be high enough. At the training center, there were both theoretical and practical courses. The important point is that education at the training center did not create any obligation for employment at the refinery and the apprentices had to run placement tests in addition to having high GPA for admission into the petroleum industry. It must be also noted that the certificate awarded by this training center was endorsed by the Ministry of Education and even foreign universities and institutes.

After entering the training center and undergoing basic education, the students chose their subjects of education based on their skills and physical and mental potentialities. Before entering a specialized workshop, the apprentices learned professional filing and the teachers suggested the subject suitable to their capabilities after assessing them.

Q: Eight rooms are seen in the southern part of the training center. What kind of activities were done in these rooms in the past and what do you plan to do with them now?

A: These rooms used to house administrative affairs, but currently they are for a variety of scenarios. They provide a chronology of education at the petroleum industry, introduce apprentices, outline the structure of the organization, house library, files, research, administrative affairs, direction, and pantry.

The objects and documents that will be showcased in these rooms will be like an introduction to the history of education the petroleum industry and highlight the role of profession and vocational schools in training specialized forces for the refineries and familiarization with apprentices and teachers that had been involved in this training center for years.