Professor Y.N. Medinsky
Foreign Languages Publishing House
Translated from the Russian
Aims and Tasks of Public Education in the U.S.S.R. and the Principles of Its Organization
The System of Public Education in the U.S.S.R.
The Cultural Revolution in the U.S.S.R.
Public Education in the Union Republics
Elementary (Four-Year) School
Middle (Seven-Year) School
Secondary (Ten-Year) School
Educational Work of the Young Communist League and Young Pioneer Organization
Extra-School and Extra-Class Work with Children
Schools for Adults
Teaching and Training Blind, Deaf-and-Dumb, and Mentally Backward Children
Elementary and Secondary Vocational Training
The Teacher of the Soviet School
Scientific Work in Pedagogics
As the result of the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, won under the leadership of the Communist Party, the workers and peasants in Russia seized power and set up the most advanced social and state system. Within an unprecedentedly short historical period the Soviet Union became a mighty industrial and collective-farm power, a country with the most progressive science and culture. The Soviet system provided unlimited opportunities for promoting education and expanding the science, literature, and art of all the peoples in the country.
The progress made by education in the U.S.S.R. is indeed colossal.
Before the Revolution pre-school public training covered only five thousand children. Now kindergartens and children’s playgrounds are serving several million children.
Universal, compulsory and free education has been introduced for all the peoples of the U.S.S.R.
Many peoples received a written language only after the Revolution.
By 1951 the number of pupils in general and technical secondary schools was nearly five times more than before the Revolution. Compared with the same period enrolment in institutions of higher learning has increased thirteen-fold.
Before the Revolution Russia had no extra school establishments while children’s libraries were few and far between. Today the country is dotted with establishments for children, such as children’s recreation clubs and libraries, Young Pioneer Palaces, Young Naturalists’ and Young Technicians’ centres, tourists’ centres and parks.
Libraries, workers’ recreation clubs, houses of culture, rural clubs and reading-rooms, schools and courses for adults, museums and lecture halls complete the finely planned system of Soviet education that serves people of all ages.
The rate of development of schools and of universal public education in the U.S.S.R. has no parallel in human history.
The entire system of public education in the U.S.S.R. ensures the communist education of young men and women, the training of a new, people’s socialist intelligentsia, and the training of millions of active builders of communist society.
The Soviet system of education has given all the peoples of the U.S.S.R. the opportunity to develop a culture that is socialist in content and national in form.
The public educational system in the U.S.S.R. differs fundamentally from all other systems, both the system that existed in Russia before the Revolution and those existing in capitalist countries today. This difference inevitably arises from the very nature of the U.S.S.R., which is a state of a new type – a socialist state.
The ruling classes of tsarist Russia – the landlords and the capitalists – were not in the least interested in raising the cultural level of the broad masses of the population. In fact the rulers of pre-revolutionary Russia considered it easier to hold in submission a people that was ignorant and illiterate. The children of workers and peasants were deliberately deprived of every opportunity to acquire an education. Only elementary schools were open to them, but the overwhelming majority were unable to attend even these schools. The entire system of public education was organized to make further education inaccessible to the children of the working people. Those who finished elementary school could not pass to secondary school to which only children of the propertied classes were admitted. In 1887, Delyanov, then Minister of Education, issued an order barring from secondary schools the “children of coachmen, footmen, cooks, washer-women and of other lower classes.” This order cynically said that there “was really no need” for such people “to aspire to a secondary and higher education.” In tsarist Russia the school was turned into an instrument of bourgeois class domination and its purpose was to give the capitalists obsequious servants and efficient workers.
Incidentally, Russia was by no means an exception in this respect. The policy of restricting the education of the working people is characteristic of all capitalist countries, including those that pride themselves upon their alleged democracy.
In bourgeois countries where “equal” opportunities formally exist for all, only well-to-do parents can afford to give their children a secondary and higher education, while the overwhelming majority of working-class children have to rest content with elementary schooling. The bourgeoisie gives the working people an opportunity to get as much education as suits its interests, and no more.
The basic difference between Soviet public education and the systems of education in capitalist countries lies primarily in the fact that the former is really public, i.e., accessible to the whole people and fully serves their interests. The Soviet Government is vitally interested in bringing culture and knowledge closer to the broadest masses of the population, to the whole people. Soviet schools are open to the children of all the working people – workers, peasants and the intelligentsia.
A new social system of the highest and most perfect order – communism – is being built in the U.S.S.R. This historic task can be successfully solved only be highly cultured people who have mastered the achievements of science and art. The aim of the Soviet Government, as stated in the programme of the Communist Party, is to transform the school from an instrument of bourgeois class domination into an instrument for the complete abolition of the division of society into classes; into an instrument for the communist regeneration of society. And the Soviet state is firmly and steadily advancing toward this goal.
The fifth five-year plan for the development of the U.S.S.R. in 1951-55 is a new gigantic stride towards the realization of the great goal – the transition to communism. The substantial advance of public eduction, provided for in the new plan, is necessary for the implementation of this historic task.
The transition form socialism to communism is infeasible without a marked cultural advance and without the all-round intellectual and physical development of the people. Society must give its members the opportunity to receive an all-round education, sufficient to allow them to share actively in the development of society.
The aim of communist training and public education in the U.S.S.R. is to provide Soviet people with facilities for all-round development and to train the rising generation to be able to consummate the building of communist society.
Communist training, whose various aspects are interrelated in an indivisible whole, consists of mental, moral, esthetic and physical training, and polytechnical education.
Mental training and education is the development in man of genuinely scientific dialectical-materialistic world outlook, the acquirement by him of systematic knowledge – the fundamentals of science – the development of the intellect, speech, and the ability to acquire knowledge independently and to apply this knowledge in practice.
In his speech at the Third Congress of the Young Communist League of Russia in 1920, V.I. Lenin spoke of the necessity of gaining a knowledge of the culture created over the ages of mankind’s development. He pointed out that it was necessary to acquire a reserve of modern learning and a precise knowledge of facts and, at the same time, to develop an ability for independent thought and creative work.
In the Soviet system of public education, instruction in communist morality is closely and indivisibly linked with general training and education.
Lenin pointed out that communist training means unstinting efforts in the interests of the common cause and that communist ethics and morality are based on the struggle to destroy the old exploiting system and to consolidate and complete communism. “Morality,” Lenin wrote, “serves the purpose of helping society to rise to a higher level and to get rid of the exploitation of labour.”*
Training in communist morality serves the great task of building a new society. This means training courageous citizens of the socialist state, deeply devoted to their country and ready and able to defend it against its enemies; training people to be conscious of their civic duty, able to fight for the common cause of the working people, disciplined, staunch, strong-willed, honest, active, and resolute champions of communism. The Great Patriotic War showed that Soviet people, educated by the school and the whole social system of the Land of Socialism, honourably met the high demands made on citizens of the U.S.S.R. by their country.
Polytechnical education, which has acquired special significance under conditions of the transition from socialism to communism, is an important component part of communist training.
In addition to gaining a knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc., pupils receiving polytechnical training must learn how to apply their knowledge in industry and agriculture; in studying these sciences they must acquire a general idea of modern production and its elements (power, machines, technology, organization of production); they must prepare themselves for their future practical activity – learn to handle the simplest implements of production.
Polytechnical training is indispensable for providing all members of society with the opportunity to freely choose a profession, so that they would not be bound to follow one profession all their lives.
The Soviet school and children’s extra-school establishments devote great attention to preparing the rising generation for practical life, to imbue them with a socialist attitude towards work and to help them acquire working habits. This, however, is not reduced to narrow utilitarianism and does not replace the systematic study of the principles of science in school. In the course of polytechnical education the pupils are taken on excursions to factories and plants, to machine-and-tractor stations, and to state and collective farms; of great importance in this connection are lectures and talks on technical subjects, work in study circles (Young Technicians, Young Naturalists), practical studies in workshops set up at school physical laboratories (for preparing school appliances) and so on.
The programme of the Communist Party raises as a major task in the sphere of public education the need to “make known the treasures of art and to bring them within the reach of the working people.”
Esthetic training in schools is aimed at acquainting the rising generation with the past and present achievements of art. With the help of the great works of art young people learn to appreciate all that is beautiful in nature and society, and to treasure everything progressive and heroic which furthers the struggle of the working people to build communist society as speedily as possible.
In class society, art has always been the exclusive possession of the privileged classes. “Tolstoy the artist,” Lenin wrote in 1910, “is known to an insignificant minority even in Russia. To make his great works really accessible to all, it is necessary to fight and fight against the social system which has condemned millions and tens of millions to ignorance, oppression, slavish toil and poverty: a socialist revolution is needed.”*
It was the victory of the proletarian revolution that brought the works of literature and other forms of art (painting, music, the theatre, etc.) within the reach of the people. The October Revolution awakened the numerous peoples of the U.S.S.R. to creative activity in art, helped art to blossom, advanced talented writers, poets, artists, musicians, and actors from among the working people of all the nationalities inhabiting the Soviet Union.
Physical training is an essential element of the Soviet system of training and education. It is furthered by a series of measures for maternity and child protection, by proper physical training in pre-school establishments (kindergartens and children’s playgrounds); considerable importance is attached to physical training in schools (physical-culture lessons), in extra-class activities (physical-culture circles in schools), and in extra-school establishments (Young Pioneer palaces, Young Pioneer summer camps, children’s tourist centres, etc.).
Physical training is closely linked with the mental, moral and esthetic development of the rising generation – it is not isolated or self-contained, but is an organic part of communist training. The elements of nature (air, sun, water), the natural movements (walking, running, jumping), tourism, games, sports and gymnastics all come in for their proper share.
The U.S.S.R. has a network of higher and secondary physical-culture schools (institutes and technicums) that train specialists in this field (scientific workers, teachers in physical culture, etc.).
The physical-culture movement has attained an unprecedentedly mass character in the Soviet Land, and the prowess of the athletes is high. More than 15 million people are going in for various forms of sport. Soviet athletes have captures many world titles. At the 15th Olympic Games in 1952 they scored substantial successes, winning 106 medals including 38 gold and 53 silver ones.
Article 121 of the Constitution, the Fundamental Law of the Soviet State, says: “Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to education.”
The formulation of the right to education may be found in the constitutions of bourgeois states. But there such articles are empty declarations, not backed by any guarantees and therefore unreal. The rights proclaimed by the Soviet Constitution are guaranteed by the achievements of socialism and ensured by the necessary material means. The right to education is ensured by universal and compulsory free education up to and including the seventh grade; by a system of state stipends for students of higher educational establishments and secondary professional schools who excel in their studies; by instruction in schools being conducted in the native language, and by the organization of free vocational, technical and agronomic training for the working people in vocational colleges and schools, as well as directly in the factories, machine-and-tractor stations, and state and collective farms (courses, schools, and so on).
In 1953 appropriations for education in the U.S.S.R. amounted to approximately 12 per cent of the budget, while the U.S. budget for 1953-1954 allowed only a bare 1/2 per cent of its appropriations for education, or 150 times less than the sum spent for military purposes. In 1951 alone 5,000 middle and secondary schools were built in the U.S.S.R., while the number of 5th-10th grade pupils increased by almost 2.5 million.
After the outbreak of the war in Korea, the U.S.A. virtually stopped building schools – a fact confirmed by ex-President Truman. A considerable number of schools in the U.S.A. have fallen into complete disrepair and children often study in empty storehouses, garages, and in cellars of dwelling houses. In that richest country of the capitalist world a huge section of the working people cannot afford to send their children even to elementary school.
Public education in the U.S.S.R. is organized on foremost democratic principles, which are:
State system of schools. All schools are opened, maintained and run by the state. This ensures uniformity throughout the educational process, the proper planning of the school network, sufficient and steady provision for the schools, and uniformity and continuity of the curriculum. The state system of public education is the best means of enabling Soviet citizens to realize their right to education for it eliminates all fortuity and lack of co-ordination in the organization of public education, excludes entirely any dependence on private or public charity, and the possibility of the school being used for commercial or other purposes unrelated to the direct function of the school.
The majority of establishments for children of pre-school age as well as cultural and educational establishments for adults are run by the state and by its local organs, the rest are maintained at the expense of public organizations (trade unions and others), but they, too, come under the supervision of state organs of public education, and their educational work (organizational and methodological) is subordinated to these organs.
The notorious “freedom of private enterprise in public education” in bourgeois countries, flaunted especially by the bourgeoisie in the U.S.A. and Britain, is nothing but bombast and hypocrisy. The banner of “private school” usually masks schools set up and controlled by religious organizations, especially by the Catholic Church, or educational establishments for the privileged with high tuition fees that put them out of reach of the children of the working people.
Complete separation of the school from the Church. This principle was established by a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars on January 21, 1918 which separated the Church from the state and the school from the Church. This decree instituted freedom of conscience, at the same time banning the publication of any laws or decisions “that would interfere with or restrict freedom of conscience or establish any advantages or privileges on the basis of the religious affiliations of a citizen.” The decree interdicted the teaching of religious doctrines in all schools with a general education curriculum, as well as the performance of religious rites in them.
Schools and other educational establishments give a genuinely scientific materialistic interpretation of all natural phenomena and social life, thereby excluding their religious conception.
Universal and public nature of education. Universal and compulsory free education up to and including the seventh grade has been introduced for all the peoples of the U.S.S.R. Secondary school education (up to and including the tenth grade) is being made universal at the present time.
No racial, national, property, social or another restrictions exist in Soviet schools of all denominations, including higher schools. The state assists students of higher educational establishments and of technical schools by granting them stipends.
Although most capitalist countries have laws providing for universal and compulsory elementary education, these laws are not observed. This is evident from statements by public leaders in these countries. An instance of this is a speech by ex-U.S. Attorney-General Clark in which he pointed out that in the United States several million children are not attending school while the education received by ten million children was so inadequate that to all intents and purposes they have remained illiterate.
Uniformity of the schools and the continuity of all links in the system of public education. The U.S.S.R. has a uniform school system for all the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and for all the republics of the Union. There are no privileged educational establishments. In place of the different types of schools existing in Russia before the Revolution, schools which were organized on a class and rank principle, the U.S.S.R. now has a uniform general educational school accessible to all citizens. There is complete continuity between all links and stages in the system of public education (the curriculum of the elementary school is the same as the curriculum of the first four grades of the middle (seven-year) and secondary (ten-year) schools, and, in its turn, the curriculum of the middle school is the same as of the first seven grades of the secondary school).
The secondary school as well as the vocational secondary school opens the way to a higher education. Thus every Soviet citizen has the opportunity to advance unhindered from the lowest stages of education to the highest.
Full equality of all the peoples of the U.S.S.R. in education. A culture that is socialist in content and national in form is developing in all the republics of the Soviet Union. In pre-school establishments, schools, and cultural-educational establishments for adults each of the numerous peoples inhabiting the U.S.S.R. uses its native language.
The Soviet Government generously fosters the development of the national theatre, literature, music, and scientific-research institutions. Decades of national art are arranged from time to time. Branches of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. have been set up in various Union Republics, and independent Academies of Sciences have been established in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Georgia, Tajikistan, and other republics.
Racial and national discrimination flourishes in bourgeois countries; national minorities, especially the peoples of the so-called “coloured races” (Negroes, Indians) are dogged by oppression. In the U.S.A. schools for Negroes and Indians have sharply restricted curricula, the scholastic year is shorter, to say nothing of unsatisfactory premises. The few Negro universities and colleges do not give their graduates the rights one usually gets after graduating from an institution of higher learning.
Full equality of men and women in education. This is expressed by co-education in secondary schools*
as well as by the acceptance of young women in all institutions of
higher learning on an equal footing with young men. There is full
equality of men and women in appointments of administrative and
teaching posts, in scientific activity, in teachers’ salaries, and so
In bourgeois countries men by far outnumber women in secondary and higher educational establishments. The statistics for 1938 show that in the U.S.S.R. women comprised 43.1 per cent of the student body, in France the figure was only 28.2 per cent, in Great Britain – 23.5 per cent, and in Italy – 17.8 per cent.
Broad contact between the school and the public. The Young Communist League, the trade unions, the various educational societies, collective farms, and parents take a keen interest and an active part in the work of schools and other educational establishments. All kindergartens and schools have parents’ committees. Problems of education are often discussed in the press and at public meetings.
Public education in the U.S.S.R. is a truly popular education and as such it is a cause held dear by the entire Soviet people, by all the citizens of the U.S.S.R.
The system of public education in the Soviet Union serves people of all ages and is made up of the following component parts: 1) pre-school educational establishments; 2) general educational schools of various types and grades; 3) extra-school establishments for children; 4) vocational training establishments; 5) institutions of higher learning; 6) cultural-educational establishments for adults.
Pre-school educational establishments. For children up to three years old the U.S.S.R. has a system of maternity and child protection centres that come under the Ministry of Public Health. This system includes, for example, child consultation centres and nurseries. At these consultation centres doctors and experienced nurse give mothers advice on child care and upbringing, and look after the health of all the babies in their districts. These services are free. Mothers working in factories and offices can, during working hours, leave their babies in day crèches where they are looked after by qualified nurses.
Other pre-school establishments, such as kindergartens and playgrounds, are for the older children – between the ages of three and seven. Kindergartens are open the year round, and playgrounds mainly in summer. Here, too, working parents can leave their children for the day, the necessary care and food being assured.
Orphans of the same age (three to seven are cared for by children’s homes where they are brought up at state expense.
There are three types of general educational schools: elementary, middle and secondary. The elementary school consists of four grades, the middle school – seven grades, and the secondary school – ten grades. Elementary education is universal, compulsory and free. Tuition in the middle school is likewise free and from 1930 to 1949 it was compulsory only in towns; beginning with 1949 middle school education was made compulsory in rural localities as well. Universal secondary school (ten-year) education is being introduced.
For children gifted in music or the fine arts there are special secondary schools, where, apart from a general education, the pupils receive a wider art training and education than in the ordinary schools.
For children of poor health there are forest schools and sanatorium schools. For children with physical defects such as blindness, deaf-and-dumbness, mental deficiency, there are special schools; here the term of studies is longer.
The general educational schools also include schools for young industrial workers and schools for young agricultural workers that serve young people working in industry and agriculture. These schools, which have the same curriculum as the middle and secondary schools, are attended after working hours by industrial or agricultural workers, depending on the type of school.
The education received by children in school is broadened and supplemented in extra-school establishments: Young Pioneer houses and palaces, children’s libraries and reading-rooms, theatres, recreation parks, tourist centres, and Young Naturalists’ and Young Technicians’ centres. All these establishments are maintained by the state.
Elementary vocational schools aim to train skilled workers. Workers for the industry and transport are trained by the trades, railway and factory schools. Special schools for the mechanization of agriculture have been set up to train skilled workers for machine-and-tractor stations – tractor drivers, combine operators and other workers. In addition to this there is a large number of different kinds of schools and courses at industrial and agricultural enterprises for the training of skilled workers.
Secondary vocational training – technical, agricultural, economic, pedagogical, medical, art, etc. – is provided by technical schools, pedagogical and art colleges, and medical schools. These educational establishments, most of which offer four-year courses, accept boys and girls who have finished the seven-year middle school, and provide them with a secondary specialized training.
Higher education is provided by the numerous universities, institutes, academies, and other educational establishments, which graduate highly skilled experts. These establishments, where the term of study is between four and six years, accept pupils who have successfully finished the secondary school.
Cultural-educational establishments – recreation clubs, houses of culture, recreation parks, libraries, museums, and lecture-halls – have been set up on a big scale during the years of Soviet power. Here the working people spend their free time and have the opportunity to take up self-education and to enrich and broaden their knowledge.
This finely planned and flexible system of public education is designed for people of all ages, ensures them with wide opportunities for education, self-education, and raising their qualifications, and satisfies their most varied cultural interests.
The system of public education is supervised by several ministries and government departments.
Pre-school establishments, general education elementary, middle and secondary schools, schools for young industrial and agricultural workers, children’s home, special schools, as well as extra-school establishments are all supervised by the Ministries of Education of the Union Republics and their local organs, the departments of public education.
The ministry of Higher Education of the U.S.S.R. is responsible for the general organizational, educational and methodological work of all secondary vocational schools and institutions of higher learning. The majority of the institutions of higher learning (all the universities, higher technical, agricultural educational establishments, and certain others) are subordinated to this Ministry not only with regard to their organizational, educational and methodological work, but also financially and economically. Other institutions of higher learning (pedagogical, art, medical, and certain others), as well as all secondary technical schools (technicums) are financially and economically subordinate to the corresponding ministries and government departments.
The Central Broad of Labour Reserves at the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. supervises elementary vocational education (vocational, railway, and factory schools, and schools for the mechanization of agriculture).
Cultural-educational establishments for adults (recreation clubs, libraries, museums and lecture halls) are under the supervision of the Republican Ministries of Culture in each of the sixteen Union Republics (R.S.F.S.R., the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Georgia, and others).
All these ministries are, in their turn, subordinate to the highest organs of state power of the Soviet Union: the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. and the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. exercise general supervision of the entire system of public education.
Having acquainted the reader with the general system of public education in the U.S.S.R., I shall now pass to a description of each of the links in this system.
Pre-revolutionary Russia was among the most backward countries as regards the general level of literacy of the population and the number of schools and pupils. In 1913 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wrote that four-fifths of the children of school age had no opportunity to get an education. The census for 1897 shows that only 24 per cent of the population over nine years of age could read and write. Literacy among the non-Russian peoples in the outlying regions of the country was at a staggeringly low level. Thus, according to the same census, only 1-3 per cent of the peoples of Central Asia – Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Turkmenians – were literate, and in a number of districts the figure was even below 1 per cent. Forty nationalities had no written language. Such was the situation in pre-revolutionary Russia, where, as Lenin said, the tsarist government was the most malevolent and irreconcilable enemy of public education.
This bitter heritage of tsarism was abolished under Soviet power. In an appeal to the population several days after the seizure of power by the working class in November 1917, the Soviet Government outlined the basic principles for organizing public education: universal and compulsory education for children of both sexes, free tuition, material provision for schools, teachers, and so on.
Despite the economic hardship brought about by the Civil War and military intervention, the young Soviet Republic already in the first years of its existence did much to promote public education. A large number of new schools were opened and courses started for training teachers.
On December 26, 1919, the Council of People’s Commissars issued a decree on the abolition of illiteracy. The decree made it compulsory for all the people of the Soviet Republic between the ages of 8 and 50 to learn to read and write in their native language, or in Russian if they so desired. Tens of thousands of people – teachers, students, secondary-school pupils, and other representatives of the Soviet intelligentsia – took part in the work to abolish illiteracy. The outstanding role in this work by the Young Communist League merits special mention. Members of the Y.C.L. carried on propaganda for the liquidation of illiteracy in all parts of the country, helped to open schools, and taught the illiterate and semi-literate.
The country became covered by a dense network of schools for the abolition of illiteracy. As a rule, in all enterprises and in all villages studies were conducted in the evenings – in school buildings, workers’ clubs, etc. These classes were attended by large groups (20-30 persons) and by groups of three-five persons; there were numerous cases of individual coaching. It was really a nation-wide crusade against illiteracy.
Literacy among the population (up to 50 years of age) increased form 56.6 per cent in 1926 to 89.1 per cent by the beginning of 1939. Nearly 50 million adults learned to read and write between 1920 and 1940.
Today the Soviet Union is a country of universal literacy.
Parallel with this nation-wide movement to abolish illiteracy, measures were taken to extend the network of general educational schools.
The development of school education proceeded at a particularly rapid rate during the years of the first five-year plan (1928-32).
On August 14, 1930, the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R. passed a decision introducing universal and compulsory education of not less than four grades for all children of eight years and up, and making seven-grade education compulsory in industrial towns and areas and workers’ settlements.
The constructions of schools was launched on a big scale, the number of teachers’ training courses and colleges increased sharply, as did the publication of text-books.
Between 1930 and 1932 school enrolment rose annually by 3-4 million, as the following figures show:
|Number of elementary, middle and secondary schools (in thousands).||
|Enrolment (in millions)….||12.0||13.5||17.6||20.9|
To properly appreciate how quickly the law on universal education was implemented, it is sufficient to point out that in four years alone (1929-33) school enrolment in the U.S.S.R. increased by 9.3 million; this figure is far in excess of that ever reached by tsarist Russia, which in 1914-15 had only 7.9 million school children.
The number of schools and pupils steadily increased in subsequent years. More than 20,000 schools were built during the five-year period of 1933-38 alone. School enrolment in 1938-39 was more than 31.5 million as against the 20.9 million in 1931-32. This was four times the number before the Revolution.
The mighty upsurge of industry, agriculture and culture in the U.S.S.R. pre-conditioned the rapid advance of higher education in the country. While in 1914 tsarist Russia had 91 institutions of higher learning with an enrolment of 112,000 students, in 1939 there were in the U.S.S.R. 750 institutions of higher learning with a student body of 620,000. A new, Soviet intelligentsia was created from among the workers and peasants.
Thus, the years of the pre-war five-year plans witnessed a veritable cultural revolution, as a result of which education and science were placed within the reach of the broadest strata of the population.
The war and the German-fascist occupation inflicted extremely heavy damage on the Soviet school. In the temporarily-occupied Soviet regions the Hitlerite vandals ruthlessly destroyed schools, children’s homes, museums, libraries, and universities. The German fascists burned, destroyed and pillaged 82,000 schools (which had been attended by 15 million pupils), 334 institutions of higher learning, hundreds of museums, thousands of recreation clubs and libraries. Although the network of schools shrank considerably during the war, the Soviet school did not stop its activity for a single day. The Soviet Government continued to pay considerable attention to public education. During the war it passed a number of important decisions aimed at promoting universal and compulsory education and strengthening the school. At the beginning of the 1944-45 school year the school age was lowered from eight to seven in the R.S.F.S.R. and other republics. This increased the number of pupils in the first grade by several million. Special school-leaving certificates were introduced for secondary-school graduates, also gold and silver medals for honour pupils. In some cities and towns separate schools were opened for boys and girls.
The country quickly recovered form the ravages wrought by the war. Not only was the pre-war network of schools restored, but by the end of 1952 there were 23,500 new schools. Already by the end of the fourth (first post-war) five-year plan (1950) enrolment in general educational schools and technical schools was higher than pre-war and comprised 37 million pupils. In 1950 the institutions of higher learning (including correspondence courses) had 1,247,000 students; in 1940 the figure was 812,000. The student body increased steadily during the fifth five-year plan, its number reaching 1,562,000 in 1953.
Already before World War II the Soviet Union had more students and institutions of higher learning than all the bourgeois countries in Europe taken together, to say nothing of any single capitalist state. Today, Moscow alone has considerably more students than, for example, the whole of Britain and France.
At present more than 57 million pupils and students are attending different schools and institutes in the U.S.S.R.
These remarkable successes are due to the great attention the Communist Party and the Soviet Government give to public education in the U.S.S.R.
Education continues to develop in the U.S.S.R. Very much has been done, but Soviet people do not stop at what has been attained. The fifth five-year plan for the development of the U.S.S.R. in 1951-55 provides for a substantial increase in the number of schools and pupils; a big rise in the number of institutions of higher learning and in the number of specialists they train; introduction in the large cities of universal secondary (ten-year) education and preparing the conditions for the introduction of secondary education on a nation-wide scale in the next five-year plan period; starting the implementation of polytechnical education; a considerable growth in the number of libraries, and so on.
That plan opens up a grand perspective for the growth and development of the entire system of public education – from the lowest pre-school link to institutions of higher learning and scientific-research establishments.
The rate at which the number of schools and pupils, institutions of higher learning, libraries, and other educational establishments is increasing in the eastern Union Republics of the U.S.S.R., the Autonomous Republics, Autonomous Regions, and National Areas is amazing even against the general background of the tremendous cultural advance of the U.S.S.R. The indigenous population of these republics and areas is made up of the non-Russian peoples of the multi-national Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
With few exceptions the peoples of the East and North of the U.S.S.R. had been culturally backward before the Great October Socialist Revolution. The tsarist government consciously hampered their cultural growth. The local rich and the clergy of these peoples (shamans and mullahs) likewise obstructed the spread of education, especially for girls.
Literacy was at a very low level. The census for 1926 (although much had already been done by that time to promote public education in the period after the October Revolution) shows that the percentage of literacy was:
In pre-Soviet times the territories of the present Union Republics and National Areas populated by non-Russian peoples had an insignificant number of schools. There were some schools in the big cities, but these were for the children of the Russian officials, officers and clergy. Secondary schools in Central Asia and Azerbaijan rarely accepted boys from among the indigenous population, and when they did make a rare concession it was to accept the sons of the nobility and wealthy merchants. There was not a single institution of higher learning in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia (i.e., the territory of present-day Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenia). Nor were there any in Eastern Siberia and in the territories of the present Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics in the Volga country, with the exception of the Tatar Autonomous Republic; Kazan, its capital, had several institutions of higher learning, but Tatars and other peoples of the Volga country (Mari, Komi, Mordovians) were rare exceptions among the students even at Kazan University.
In the U.S.S.R., where capitalism and national oppression had been abolished, all the peoples rallied in a single multi-national socialist state on the basis of full equality and fraternal co-operation. The Russian people rendered enormous assistance to the other peoples of the Soviet Union to develop their national economy and culture, and to train qualified cadres.
In a short span of 36 years illiteracy was completely liquidated in all the republics of the Soviet Union (both Union and Autonomous) as well as in the National Areas. Every people have an extensive network of elementary, middle and secondary schools; all the Union and Autonomous Republics have institutions providing professional training, and each has several institutions of higher learning. Teaching in elementary and secondary schools is conducted in the native language of the pupils. Education among women in the national republics (percentage of literacy and percentage of graduates of secondary schools and institutions of higher learning) has risen to the same level as among women in the Russian Federation. All the peoples of the U.S.S.R. now have their own national intelligentsia.
Under the favourable conditions for cultural development created by the Lenin-Stalin national policy, the formerly backward peoples made a tremendous effort and came up to the level of the other peoples of the U.S.S.R. They successfully surmounted the enormous obstacles and difficulties that stood in their way to cultural advancement, such as an insufficient number of teachers, lack of school premises, extreme backwardness of the women, etc.
The Union Republics, especially those in Central Asia, had to develop a much faster rate of building new schools than the Russian Federation, in order to reach its level in the shortest possible time. The development of the network of schools in these republics was especially rapid beginning with 1930.
The growth of general educational schools (elementary, middle, and secondary) in various Union Republics prior to the Great Patriotic War is shown in the following table:
Number of General Educational Schools
From the above table we see that in the R.S.F.S.R. the number of schools in the 1938-39 school year was one and a half times greater than in 1914-15, while in the republics of Central Asia the increase was: 16-fold in Kirghizia, 23-fold in Turkmenia, 29-fold in Uzbekistan, and even 462-fold in Tajikistan.
Public pre-school upbringing of children – kindergartens and playgrounds – is receiving great attention. Each republic has many extra-school establishments for children, such as Young Pioneer houses, children’s libraries, and others. Some of the Union Republics pioneered new and original forms of extra-school upbringing of children. For instance, the first children’s railway, the Tbilisi line, was built in Georgia in 1935 and, subsequently, this example was followed by other republics (the R.S.F.S.R., the Ukraine and others).
Every type of cultural-educational establishment, such as recreation clubs, libraries, museums and lecture halls multiplied rapidly in all the Union Republics.
Some of the Union Republics (the Ukraine, Georgia and others) have scientific-research pedagogical institutes.
On the example of several Union Republics the following pages show education is successfully progressing in the post-war period among the different peoples of the U.S.S.R.
Byelorussia. Before the October Revolution literacy among the population in what is now the Byelorussia S.S.R. was a bare 18 per cent. The 1939 census showed that it had reached 78.9 per cent, and now Byelorussia is a country of universal literacy.
In tsarist times the number of pupils attending general educational schools was 266,000, but by 1950 this number soared to 1,490,000, in other words it increased 5.5 times.
Moreover, in 1949-50 the republic had types of educational establishments that were non-existent under tsarism. These include schools for young industrial workers with 27,400 pupils, schools for young agricultural workers with 25,500 pupils, and various extra-school institutions – 18 Young Pioneer palaces and houses, seven Young Technicians’ and 11 Young Naturalists’ centres, 19 physical-culture schools, four children’s stadiums and recreation parks, 44 children’s libraries.
While in 1913-14 the network of special secondary educational establishments was limited to several technical schools and 11 teachers’ colleges, in 1949-50 Byelorussia had 108 secondary vocational schools (technical schools, pedagogical colleges, medical schools, and others) with an enrolment of 34,650.
Before the October Revolution, Byelorussia did not have a single institution of higher learning, but in 1949-50 the republic had 28 higher educational establishments with a student body of 17,870.
Libraries were set up throughout the republic: the Byelorussia Lenin State Library in Minsk had by 1949-50 a total book fund of 2,148,000 volumes. The republic had 12 regional, 175 district, 52 city and 352 rural libraries. That same year the network of recreation clubs for adults included 2,498 rural reading-rooms, 106 rural clubs, 172 district and 8 city clubs, and 197 rural houses of culture.
It should be noted that in Byelorussia, which had been attacked in the first days of the war, the fascist barbarians feverishly destroyed, burned and pillaged cultural and educational establishments. But five years after the war Byelorussia not only restored her seats of culture but developed them considerably.
The Ukraine. The tsarist government did its utmost to hold up the cultural development of the Ukrainians as in the case of other peoples. Before 1917 there were 19,568 general educational schools with 1,678,000 pupils, but in 1940-41 the republic already had 27,314 schools with 6,054,000 pupils.
Most of the schools in the Ukraine were destroyed by the fascists during the war, but as soon as the invaders had been driven out, the Ukraine network of schools was speedily restored and substantially enlarged. In the Ukraine there are about 30,000 schools with 6,500,000 pupils. Many new schools were opened particularly in Western Ukraine (Transcarpathian Region) which, having been formerly outside the borders of the U.S.S.R., was conspicuously behind in public education. By 1952 the Transcarpathian Region had 13 times more middle and secondary schools than before the war.
The 19 institutions of higher learning with their 26,700 students that the Ukraine had in 1914 expanded by 1939 into 142 universities and institutes with a student body of 123,135.
In 1952/53, the Ukraine already had 144 institutions of higher learning with 177,000 students.
That same year saw more than 200,000 persons studying in technical schools.
The republic has its own Academy of Sciences, 480 scientific-research institutions and establishments, scores of theatres and tens of thousands of clubs and libraries.
Azerbaijan. Before the October Revolution this republic was culturally backward despite its tremendous industrial importance. The tsarist government kept the number of schools down, and in the few schools that did function, teaching in the native language was forbidden.
In the years of Soviet power the number of general educational schools in Azerbaijan and their enrolment registered the following change: in 1914-15 there were 976 schools with 73,109 pupils, while in 1948-49 there were 3,475 schools with 583,100 or eight times more pupils.
In 1949 Azerbaijan had 19 institutions of higher learning with 29,000 students, and 80 secondary vocational schools. That year there were 1,129 rural clubs, 91 houses of culture and other cultural-educational establishments.
Georgia. The general educational schools in the republic had 723,000 pupils in 1949-50 as against 156,000 pupils in 1914-15.
In 1949 Georgia had 19 institutions of higher learning and 118 secondary vocational schools.
The extensive network of cultural-educational establishments in 1950 included 95 houses of culture, 1,117 recreation clubs, 691 rural reading-rooms, 28 recreation parks, and 4,753 libraries, the biggest of which is the State Republican Library in Tbilisi, which has about 2,000,000 volumes.
The problem of teaching in the native language presented great difficulty in Georgia as the country is populated by a large number of small peoples. Nevertheless the republic has creditably solved this problem by organizing schools for each of these peoples, where the teaching is conducted in the native language.
Armenia. During the last years of tsarism Armenia had only 459 schools with 34,738 pupils. In the years following the October Revolution the number of pupils increased 9-fold and in 1948-49 was 302,000; in addition the republic had 447 schools for young industrial and agricultural workers with 13,800 pupils.
That year Armenia had 218 kindergartens and 567 playgrounds, which accommodated 38,000 children.
Fifteen institutions of higher learning (seven more than at the outbreak of the war) functioned in the republic in 1948-49. The student body numbered 10,124, not counting 3,032 correspondence students.
The republic has 970 recreation clubs and 2,110 libraries of which the State Republican Library in Erevan is the biggest.
Kirghizia. Before the Great October Socialist Revolution Kirghizia was among the most backward territories of the Russian empire – literacy among the indigenous population was no higher than 2-3 per cent. Today the republic has, in the main, implemented universal middle-school education. The number of pupils in general schools in 1952 reached the high figure of 315,000 as against 7,041 in 1914-15.
In 1952, Kirghizia had 10 institutions of higher learning and 26 technical schools with enrolment of 20,000 students. There is a branch of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. in the republic, as well as 34 scientific-research establishments.
Latvia. In 1940 the working people of Latvia overthrew the fascist dictatorship of Ulmanis and established Soviet power. Already in her first year Soviet Latvia saw the number of pupils in her elementary and secondary schools increase by more than 30,000. However, in the following year, 1941, the development of education was cut short by the Hitlerite invasion. The fascist barbarians inflicted heavy losses on the republic’s economy and culture. After the expulsion of the invaders in 1944, the republic pressed the work of restoring and building schools and other educational establishments. In 1951-52 there were already 1,534 general educational schools in Latvia with an enrolment of 278,000 pupils, or an increase of 75,000 compared with 1940. In 1950, Latvia had 76 secondary vocational schools with 25,000 pupils, and 10 institutions of higher learning with 13,000 students, instead of three institutions of higher learning that the country had when it was ruled by the bourgeoisie. A total of 1,280 libraries, more than 800 recreation clubs, houses of culture and other cultural establishments functioned in the republic in 1950.
An Academy of Sciences with 16 scientific-research institutes was set up in Latvia in 1946. These institutes have, in collaboration with workers in industry, given the country a number of valuable inventions and scientific discoveries.
Public education developed with similar speed and scope in all the other Union Republics of the Soviet Union.
Public pre-school upbringing of children was in an embryonic state in pre-revolutionary Russia. Throughout Russia there were only 285 nurseries, kindergartens and other children’s establishments. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and some of the other large cities had 10-15 so-called “public” kindergartens for children of the working people. These kindergartens were run by public charities, societies for the pre-school upbringing of children and others. The rest were privately-owned, expensive and catered to a small number of children from wealthy families.
On the eve of the October Revolution there were not more than 5,000 children in pre-school establishments throughout the whole of Russia.
Although the foremost Russian pedagogues of the beginning of the 20th century (S.T. Shatsky, E.E. Solovyova, A.M. Kalmykova, E.I. Tikheyeva, L.K. Shleger, and others) sought to promote the development of pre-school education and selflessly gave all their energies to this work, their efforts were hampered by tsarist officials.
After the October Revolution the organization of pre-school education underwent a fundamental change.
Nurseries, children’s homes and kindergartens appeared in all parts of the country as state-operated establishments. Firm principles and a finely planned Soviet system of pre-school education were worked out.
The guiding state document on pre-school education – Kindergarten Rules – outlines the aims, problems and organization of pre-school education. Its most important points are:
The kindergarten is a state institution for the public Soviet education of children between the ages of three and seven, and its aim is to ensure children with all-round development and upbringing. Simultaneously, the kindergarten facilitates the participation of mothers in industrial, state, cultural, public, and political activity.
In carrying out these aims the kindergarten:
looks after the health of children and ensures a correct physical development and toughening of their bodies;
develops the child’s mental faculties, speech, will-power and character, provides him with art training and acquaints him with the surrounding world;
inculcates in children self-dependence, teaches them to look after themselves, makes them hygiene-minded, and develops in them working habits;
teaches them to love their Motherland and the Soviet people.
The upbringing a child receives in a kindergarten later helps him successfully to pursue his studies in school.
Kindergartens are organized by district public education departments, factories and plants, rural and town Soviets, co-operatives and collective farms.
Kindergartens can have three or four groups of 25 children in each. Every group is made up of children of the same age.
Children spend 9-10-12 hours a day in kindergartens, depending on their working and home conditions of the parents. The 9-10 hour stay is the most frequent as this takes into account the usual eight-hour working day of the parents and the time necessary to bring and fetch the children.
There are kindergartens with special groups where the children stay overnight if their parents work in night shifts and there is no one at home to look after them. Such an organization of kindergartens most vividly reflects the concerns the Soviet Government evinces for maternity and child welfare.
During their 9-10 hour stay in a kindergarten the children are fed three times, while during a 12-hour or night-and-day stay they are given four meals.
Every group is in charge of a specially trained teacher, in addition to whom there are a music teacher, a doctor and a medical nurse.
Parents’ committees are organized to help in the work of the kindergartens; these committees are elected at annual parents’ general meetings.
The essence and method of the work in kindergartens is different for each age-group depending on the psychological and physical features of children of each age.
The primary and basic aim of the kindergarten is to safeguard the health of children and to ensure their proper physical training.
This training is carried out in the hygienic surroundings of the kindergarten, by a strict time-table, correct nourishment, toughening of the child’s body, developing his movements and inculcating hygienic habits. Children spend not less than 3-4 hours in the open air daily.
The mental development of children is an important part of the kindergarten programme. With this in view the kindergarten pays great attention to the development of the senses (sight, hearing, feeling, etc.). The teacher helps the child to develop his discriminative powers, an eagerness for knowledge, perception, speech, to use his native language correctly and to broaden his understanding of nature and society.
No less important is the moral upbringing of children. The children are taught to love their parents, to respect their elders, to play in a team spirit, to give in to each other and to be obedient. Will-power, courage, perseverance, and self-control are developed gradually in them. They are taught to be truthful, modest, and conscientious towards their duties. The pedagogue teaches his charges to love their country, its nature, develops in them a feeling of friendship and respect for all the peoples of the Soviet Union and the working people of other countries. This is done by talks, by reading of folk-tales, singing songs and so on.
The kindergarten attaches great importance to art training. This is attained by appropriately furnishing the kindergarten, and by music, singing, modelling, and drawing lessons.
Games, ably directed by the teacher, are the principal form of pre-school education.
Games help to develop children physically and mentally, contribute to their moral and artistic training, develop their initiative, perception, and dexterity, and teach them to live and work collectively and to approach problems creatively.
The teacher gradually introduces elements of work into the life of children: they lay the table for breakfast and dinner, put away their toys and educational appliances, look after plans, feed the poultry and rabbits, and do other little jobs.
In kindergartens the children are taught to count. By the time they are ready to leave the kindergarten, the children of the senior groups must know how to count up to 20-30, compare numbers, add and subtract within limits of one to ten; they must know what measures are – kilogramme, metre, litre; they must know the days of the week and how to tell the time with an accuracy up to one hour. The children must know how to express their thoughts with a sufficient reserve of words, correctly form sentences, tell a short story so that the other children would understand it, describe an event in their lives, and know by heart several poems.
Through these lessons the children of senior groups in kindergartens are gradually prepared for school.
The time-table at the kindergarten is different for each age-group. The approximate time-table for children of four to five years of age is:
|Reveille for children staying overnight, morning toilette||8 a.m. (summer
|Assemblage of day children, games and recreation by choice, morning exercises||8-9 a.m.|
|Walk, games and tasks in the open air||10.30 a.m.|
|After-dinner sleep||1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m.|
|Games and tasks||3.20 p.m.|
|Walk, games in the open air and departure of day children||4.30 p.m.|
|Sleep (for children staying overnight)||8 p.m. (summer
A large number of playgrounds open in summer-time in towns and rural localities. The time-table is approximately the same as at the kindergarten.
Kindergartens maintain a close contact with parents. The teachers visit the homes of the children, and hold regular talks and consultations on problems of upbringing. They participate in pedagogical propaganda among the population, help to organize lectures and radio broadcasts on the upbringing of children, and other measures.
As has already been said kindergartens and playgrounds cater to millions of children. The network of children’s establishments is steadily expanding. Between 1951 and 1955 the number of places in kindergartens will be increased by 40 per cent.
The U.S.S.R. has many pedagogical colleges with a three-year course training teachers for kindergartens and playgrounds. There are also pedagogical schools that have pre-school departments where elementary-school teachers are trained.
In the R.S.F.S.R. and other Union Republics there are pedagogical institutes where special departments train qualified teachers for work in kindergartens and other pre-school establishments.
Scientific-research work on pre-school upbringing is conducted by the chairs of pre-school pedagogics at these institutes and at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R.
The Ministries of Education of the Union Republics have republican pre-school methodological centres, while many regional public education departments have local pre-school methodological centres.
Literature on pre-school upbringing is being published systematically. Pre-School Upbringing, a monthly magazine, has been coming out regularly since 1926.
Tremendous success in the sphere of pre-school education in the U.S.S.R. has been achieved as a result of the attention given to pre-establishments by the Communist Party and the Soviet Government, and by the whole of Soviet society.
In the Soviet Union the elementary (four-year) school is the first independent link in the uniform Soviet school system and is closely connected with the next link, the middle school. It has four grades and is attended by children between the ages of seven and ten.
The elementary school is co-educational and free.
It lays the basis for all-round development of children and for their education in the spirit of communist morality.
The study plans and school curricula in the different Union Republics are basically uniform.
The study plan providing for four lessons a day in each class in elementary schools in the R.S.F.S.R. is given below. The third and fourth grades have five lessons one and three days a week respectively. Lessons last 45 minutes.
(Figures in brackets indicate hours in second half-year)
The Russian language programme aims:
1) to teach pupils to read correctly, fluently, intelligently and with expression, and to write grammatically;
2) to acquaint pupils with Russian literature suitable to their age – verse, fables, excerpts form the prose of the best Russian writers;
3) to develop the pupils’ speech and to cultivate in them the ability to express their thoughts in verbal and written form on subjects suitable to their age;
4) to give pupils an elementary knowledge of grammar (parts of speech, structure of the simple sentence); to teach pupils the rules of spelling.
Already in the 1st grade the children become practically acquainted with phonetics, learn to break up speech into words, syllables and sounds; acquire an elementary knowledge of vowels and consonants. In the 2nd grade the children are taught the morphological composition of words (root, prefix, etc.). In the 3rd and 4th grades, pupils are taught the parts of speech and the rudiments of syntax (definition of the sentence, an understanding of the subject and the predicate, and their connection with other words in the sentence). The children are taught to compose short stories and to express their thoughts intelligently.
In the 4th grade the children master oral and written expression to such an extent that they are able to retell in writing the stories read by them, write short compositions on set subjects and subjects of their own choice. They must also be able to write a short business note (receipt, power of attorney, etc.).
In arithmetic the elementary school programme includes counting, the four operations of arithmetic on concrete numbers of any magnitude, the metric system and measures of time, vulgar fractions, and the elementary rules of object geometry. The programme gives prominence to the solution of arithmetic problems. The course of arithmetic gives the child an insight into quantitative relations and spatial forms, inculcating in the child valuable habits for practical life and developing his faculty for thinking.
Natural science is taught as an independent subject beginning with the 4th grade; in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades the children are given an elementary knowledge of natural science through explanatory reading at the Russian language lessons. In the 1st grade the children are given concrete information on the seasons, water, air, stones, metals, and soil. The children are acquainted with forests, fields, orchards, vegetable fields and receive an elementary knowledge of physiology.
In the 2nd grade the children are acquainted with deciduous and coniferous trees, shrubs, grasses, while teaching of physiology is continued. In 3rd grade the children study the primary agricultural plants, domestic and wild animals. The teaching of physiology continues with information on contagious diseases. All this is learned at the Russian language lessons through talks, observations and reading corresponding articles from the chrestomathy. In the 4th grade the children are given a short course in inanimate nature (water, air, minerals, soil). This course provides for observations, the simplest practical lessons, and excursions.
The natural science course in the elementary school aims at awakening and deepening the children’s interest and love for nature, to equip them with an elementary knowledge of nature necessary in the succeeding grades for the study of botany, zoology, anatomy and human physiology. In a form suitable to their age children learn from their natural science course that objects of nature do not remain unchanged, that there is a connection between natural phenomena, that by his interference and work man is changing nature. Thus, already the natural science course lays in children the fundamentals of a materialistic world outlook and exposes superstition and prejudice.
Geography is taught in close connection with natural science. In the 2nd and 3rd grades elementary geography is taught at the Russian language lessons through explanatory reading, and talks during excursions.
This preliminary knowledge enables the introduction in the 4th grade of a special geography course aimed chiefly at teaching children what natural conditions influence the economic activity of people and how man’s labour is remaking nature. The course starts by giving children a general knowledge of the globe; the second theme is “A brief review of the U.S.S.R. physical map.” Further, the children study the natural zones of the U.S.S.R.; the course ends with a brief political review of the U.S.S.R. (sixteen Union Republics). The children are given an idea of the chief natural resources of the U.S.S.R. and become acquainted with the mighty development of socialist industry and with the great Soviet construction works.
Children receive their first knowledge of history in the 2nd and 3rd grades.
From their teacher’s stories and explanatory reading the children learn of the forefathers of the Russian people – the Slavs, of how, in feudal and capitalist society, some people work, while others live idly, exploiting the labour of those who work, of how the oppressed working people struggle against their exploiters, and so on.
In the 4th grade the children are given an elementary course in the history of the U.S.S.R., are acquainted in chronological order with historical information on the U.S.S.R., learn of peasant uprisings against landlords, the workers’ movement, and of the 1905 Revolution.
The cardinal theme of the course is the Great October Socialist Revolution. Children learn to understand that this Revolution freed Russia from exploiters, transformed her, made her an advanced country politically, economically and culturally, and opened the road to freedom from capitalist oppression for the working people of all countries.
The history course in the Soviet school sets important aims. Already in elementary school it must make children understand that in life everything changes, that the old and moribund gives way to the new and advanced. This course teaches children to understand the connections between historical phenomena and by giving them a knowledge of the past it teaches them to understand the peasant.
Drawing lessons aim to facilitate the esthetical development of children – to educate them in the arts, to cultivate their artistic tastes, to help awaken their creative talents, to rouse their interest for the fine arts and love for the artistic culture of their country; to train in children a power of observation; to develop in them a knowledge of dimensions.
The drawing course in the elementary school includes drawing from nature, decorative drawing (patterns), thematic drawing, as well as talks on art with the showing of reproductions of the best paintings.
The teaching of singing aims at cultivating a taste for music, to make children love music and singing, and to develop their talent for singing. For the most part these lessons are devoted to choral singing. The children learn to sing the Soviet National Anthem and songs suitable to their age by Soviet composers and by the great Russian composers of the past (Chaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and others), as well as songs of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. In the elementary school, children are taught to read music.
Physical training aims to build up the health of children, to strengthen their bodies, and to develop courage, self-control, and dexterity.
Physical training lessons include exercises, walking, active games, skiing.
The school year in the elementary school, like in the middle and secondary schools, begins on September 1 and is divided into four terms: the first three terms are from September 1 to November 5, from November 9 to December 29, and from January 11 to March 23. The fourth term is from April 1 to May 20 for the first three grades, and to May 24 for the 4th grade (because of examinations).
The pupil’s level of knowledge is rated according to a system of five marks: 5 (excellent), 4 (good), 3 (fair), 2 (poor), and 1 (bad). The pupils of the first three grades pass from one grade to another on the basis of their progress without examinations. Fourth-grade pupils have to pass examinations in the Russian language and arithmetic before going on to the 5th grade. In addition to these examinations pupils in non-Russian schools have to pass an examination in their native language.
About a fourth of all elementary schools are single-group schools. The lessons in all the four grades are conducted by the same teacher, who sometimes conducts his classes in two shifts, with two grades in each shift. In such schools the teacher receives 150 per cent of the usual salary. All other schools (multi-group schools) have two, three and more teachers (not more than 40 pupils to each teacher). The number of single-group schools is steadily decreasing.
To bring the school closer to the entire population it is permissible to organize schools in small villages where there are 15 and more children.
In the elementary school (like in all other schools) the lesson is the principal form of instruction. As a rule this is a mixed lesson at which sufficient time is set aside for imparting new knowledge, going over what the pupils had already learned, and checking their progress.
The dull, pedantic and patternized methods of teaching children, characteristic of the old school, have been done away with long ago in the Soviet school. Efforts were made to abolish these methodological shortcomings in elementary education already in the 1860’s and 1870’s by such great Russian pedagogues as K. D. Ushinsky and L. N. Tolstoy. The Soviet school used their experience and progressed further: in each child it sees a creative personality, and its approach to every pupil is not guided by a ready-made recipe but by a desire to help him to master knowledge consciously and develop his faculty for independent thinking. Without sacrificing systematic study of the fundamentals of science the Soviet school strives to show the pupil that everything he learns is associated with life.
The methods of study in the Soviet school, particularly in the elementary school, are: narration and explanation by the teacher, talks, lessons in which text-books and other books are used, written and graphic work by pupils, demonstrations and illustrations (the object lesson), and excursions.
In the succeeding grades (5th -10th) these methods are supplemented by laboratory work (in natural science, physics, and chemistry) and lectures.
Beginning with the 1st grade the Soviet school carries out a great educational task – its mission is to prepare a generation able to build and strengthen communist society.
The lesson – the process of teaching – is the principal form of instruction; a considerable part of it is conducted in the process of extra-class and extra-school activity (school socials and celebrations, excursions, extra-class reading, work in pupils’ circles and so on). Great importance is attached to a correct school time-table, cleanliness and order in school, beauty of the building and quality of its equipment. The Young Pioneer Organization plays an important role in school. Its educational value and activities will be dealt with in a separate chapter. The authority of the teacher is a necessary attribute for fruitful educational work.
Pupils’ Rules, approved in 1945, are compulsory for pupils of all school (elementary, middle and secondary), and it is namely in the elementary school that children are taught undeviatingly to observe these rules.
The most important of these rules are:
Every pupil must:
Master knowledge insistently and perseveringly in order to become an educated and cultured citizen and bring the maximum benefit to the Soviet Motherland.
Study diligently, attend classes regularly and arrive in school on time.
Come to school neatly dressed, clean and combed.
Listen attentively to the teacher’s explanations in class and to the answers of his classmates; not talk or do anything not concerned with the lesson.
Keep a precise record of his home-work in a diary or an exercise book set aside for this purpose and regularly show this record to his parents; do his home-work by himself.
Be respectful to the headmaster of the school and to the teachers.
Be polite to his elders, behave modestly and decorously in school, in the street, and in public places.
Be considerate and courteous to old people, small children, the weak and the sick, help them in the street, give them his seat in public vehicles and render them every assistance.
Obey his parents, help them, and look after his small brothers and sisters.
Help to maintain cleanliness at home and tie that his clothes, shoes and bed are neatly.
Uphold the honour of his school and class of his own.
Explanation of these rules begins on the 1st day that children come to school.
The soviet school carries on an extensive activity among parents, organizes visits by teachers to the families of the pupils, consults parents individually and collectively on various questions of upbringing, calls parents’ meetings (class and school). Every school has a parents’ committee elected at class parents’ meetings for one year. These committees meet every month.
The difference between the study plans and curricula in Russian and non-Russian schools is very small. The chief difference is in the language in which the teaching is conducted. All lessons are conducted in the native language and this language is the subject of study and teaching. In addition to their native language pupils of the elementary school, beginning with the 2nd grade, study the Russian language as a compulsory subject. By the time they finish elementary school, children of all the nationalities in the U.S.S.R. are able to speak, read and write in Russian.
Some of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (Daghestan, Buryat-Mongolia, Yakutia, and others) are at liberty to open preparatory classes. Some non-Russian schools have hostels.
The place that the Soviet elementary school occupies in the U.S.S.R.
school system makes it basically different from the elementary school
in capitalist countries, where quite frequently the scanty and
unsystematic knowledge it offers, the squalid premises, and the poor
qualification and low salary of the teachers make them rather a parody
than a school. This feature is especially characteristic of the public
school in the U.S.A.
The increased material security of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and the rapid advance of their culture pre-conditioned the swift development of middle- and secondary-school education. In 1952 alone enrolment in the 5th -7th grades rose by more than 500,000.
The number of middle and secondary schools is growing continuously.
At present the middle (seven-year) school is universal throughout the country. Simultaneously, in accordance with the targets set by the five-year plan for the development of the U.S.S.R. in 1951-55, the country started upon the transition to universal secondary (ten-year) education in the large cities, and is preparing the conditions for introducing universal secondary education on a nationwide scale in the next five-year plan period.
A comparison of the study plan of the first four grades of the middle school with the plan of the elementary school (given above) will show that they are identical. The curricula are identical, too. The 5th grade of the middle school is the direct continuation of the elementary school 4th grade.
The study plan of the middle school is as given in the table on page 81.
Let us examine the subjects studied in the 5th-7th grades of the middle and secondary schools.
Russian language and reading includes a systematic course in grammar; pupils are acquainted with the best works of Russian literature and with the elements of science on literature.
Reading serves an educational and instructive purpose. Acquaintanceship with the best works of Russian literature (pre-revolutionary and Soviet) develops in pupils a socialist attitude to work, teaches them to love their country and people and instils in them a spirit of friendship and comradeship. The reading course is an introduction, as it were, to the course in the history of literature, which is taught in the 8th -10th grades.
Mathematics covers a systematic course in vulgar fractions, decimals, percentages and proportions. Algebra and geometry are studied beginning with the 6th grade.
according to grades
|Total study hours for entire course|
|Russian language and reading
|Constitution of the U.S.S.R.
(Figures in brackets indicate hours in second half-year)
In teaching mathematics great attention is paid to linking theory with practice. Pupils must know how to apply their knowledge of mathematics when solving problems of the interrelated subjects (physics and chemistry), of technique and agriculture. They must be able to do some of the practical exercises not only on paper; they must also know how to apply them practically (measure plots of land, determine distances, make surveys and so on).
This connection with practice makes the course of mathematics as taught in the school sharply different from the course taught in the pre-revolutionary Russian secondary school, where it was abstract and formalistic.
Natural science covers a systematic course in botany and zoology.
This course is taught on the basis of the materialistic teachings of Ivan Michurin, the great remaker of nature. Plants and animals are studied in union with the conditions of their environment and development. The theoretic course is closely linked with practical agricultural problems such as plant and animal breeding.
Natural science is supplemented by work in the laboratory with the microscope and observations in nature as well as in school experimental gardens. Excursions are organized to collective and state farms and to museums. Pupils are given practical tasks which they do during the summer holidays. Many schools have Young Naturalists’ circles, whose activity is directed by the Young Naturalists’ centres. The course in natural science, especially botany and zoology, studied in the middle school, facilitates polytechnical education, since it gives pupils the grounding for mastering the fundamentals of agriculture.
The course in history, after a short introduction, that gives pupils an idea of primitive society, covers the history of the ancient East, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the early Middle Ages, the later Middle Ages and the beginning of modern history (up to the French bourgeois revolution of 1789).
This course is of great instructive importance and leads pupils to a Marxist-Leninist understanding of history; it reviews the development of class society and reveals its antagonistic character, shows the class struggle and the inevitable overthrow of the exploiting social systems.
In the middle school and, later, in the secondary school, the leading idea in the history course is the progressive development of human society, the inevitable overthrow of the old and moribund order and the victory of the new and more advanced system. In the middle schools this idea is strikingly evident during the study of the disintegration of the ancient slave-owning world and its replacement in the Middle Ages by the feudal system, which in its turn, with the development of capitalism and the growth of the bourgeoisie, was replaced through revolution by the capitalist system.
The course acquaints pupils with the struggle for liberation waged by the peoples and gives them a concrete conception of just wars (non-predatory wars of liberation) and unjust (predatory) wars.
The history course must give the pupil a sound knowledge of the origin and development of each social system. He must know historical facts, the conditions that called them forth and the laws that govern them; he must know historical personages and have a profound understanding of the people as the maker of history.
The course in the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. gives the pupil a knowledge of the state structure of the U.S.S.R., makes him understand that the Soviet system is a higher form of democracy, that the rights of the citizen of the Soviet Union proclaimed in the Constitution are carried out in practice. This course shows the pupil the leading and guiding role of the Communist Party, acquaints him with the tremendous achievements of the Soviet Union, and convincingly explains that the great victories of the Soviet Land were made possible only because of the immense advantages of the socialist system.
Geography starts as a general course in physical geography, followed by a physical-geographic review of various parts of the world (Europe, Asia, America, Africa, and Australia) and a course in the physical geography of the U.S.S.R. Pupils are acquainted with the vast expanses of their country and its natural wealth, which is used in the interests of the people.
In physics pupils are taught mechanics and the rudiments of heat and electricity.
The main aims of the chemistry course are to give pupils the knowledge necessary for a scientific understanding of the processes taking place in nature, an understanding of the problems connected with the wide-spread employment of chemistry in the country, to acquaint them with the scientific principles of the chemical industries and to promote the development in pupils of a materialistic world outlook. These aims are realized in the process of the entire course which is divided into four years (7th-10th grades).
In the 7th grade, pupils are taught the fundamental conceptions and laws of chemistry.
Middle-school pupils study one foreign language: English, German, or French.
The foreign language course aims to teach pupils: 1) to read fluently with correct pronunciation and intonation, and to understand everything they read; 2) to understand foreign speech, to be able to answer questions correctly and to ask questions within the limits of what they had been taught; to be able after reading a text to retell its contents; 3) to be able to translate from the foreign language an unfamiliar average text with a minimum use of the dictionary; 4) to be able to express with correct spelling their thoughts in writing within the limits of the lexical material and grammar rules they have passed. These aims, naturally, must be realized in the process of the entire course in the foreign language from the 5th to the 10th grades.
The content of educational work with pupils in the middle school deepens in conformity with the age peculiarities of the pupils (11-13 years). At this age the interests of children already become more clearly defined. It marks the beginning of the transition period when it is especially important to direct the interests of the pupil, his reading, to discipline him, and help to form his will and character.
It is namely at this age, in the middle school, that a very important educational role is played by the Young Pioneer Organization, inasmuch as the vast majority of the Young Pioneers are middle-school pupils.
One of the most important tasks of the middle school, as of the elementary and secondary schools, is the training of discipline.
The main method of training conscious discipline in the Soviet school consists of persuasion and influencing the consciousness of the pupil. Good discipline is attained by harmonious and able teaching of the subjects, a strict regime, the creation in the school of close-knit body of pupils, active Young Pioneer and Young Communist League organizations, well-organized extra-class and extra-school activities. Encouragement and reprimand are applied in schools of all types. Measures of encouragement are:
Praise by the teacher, classmaster, the director of the curriculum department, and the headmaster.
Letter of thanks by the headmaster with its announcement to the class or at a general meeting of pupils.
Award of books, prizes and certificates of merit.
Award of gold and silver medals for excellent and outstanding success in study and exemplary conduct, with an entry on the Board of Honour.
Measures of reprimand include:
Reproof by the teacher, classmaster, director of the curriculum department, and the headmaster.
After-school detention to do undone home-work or classwork.
Summons for admonition before the school council.
Reprimand announced throughout the school in an order by the headmaster.
Lowering the conduct mark.
Expulsion (in rare cases).
The Soviet school does not reject punishment, but corporal punishment is categorically forbidden. The usual measures of punishment are explanation, reproof and reprimand.
The 5th and 6th grades sit for end-of-year examinations and the 7th grades sit for middle school-leaving examinations.
Graduation from the middle school gives the right to pass to the 8th
grade in a secondary school or to enrol in a secondary vocational
Enrolment in secondary (ten-year) schools has increased considerably due to the start made in introducing universal ten-year education. In 1953 alone enrolment in the 8th-10th grades rose by 1,307,000 (including 518,000 pupils in rural localities).
The ordinary Soviet secondary school has ten grades. Children are enrolled in the 1st grade at the age of seven and finish the 10th grade when they are seventeen.
In 1928 girls made up 37.6 per cent of the enrolment in secondary schools. In 1938 the figure stood at 51.6 per cent and this is the approximate level at present.
Note should be made of the multiplying percentage of girls among secondary-school pupils in the republics of the peoples of the East – Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenia. By 1938 the percentage was 35-40, or somewhat less than the figure for the rest of the U.S.S.R. If account is taken of the humble position of Eastern women before the Revolution it will be clear what an immense cultural advance has been and is being made by the peoples of the eastern part of the U.S.S.R., thanks to the national policy of the Soviet Government.
Until the autumn of 1943 the secondary school in the U.S.S.R. (like the schools of all other types and grades) was co-educational. Co education was introduced in the Soviet school in 1918, immediately after the October Socialist Revolution. That was necessary at the time, firstly, as a measure in the struggle to achieve full equality of men and women (the curriculum in the secondary schools for girls in pre-revolutionary Russia covered a smaller field than the curriculum in the boys’ schools), and, secondly, in order to make secondary education accessible to all.
To have maintained separate secondary schools in that period, when there were not enough schools in general, would have hampered the promotion of women’s secondary education. With only a boys’ school open in a small town or village, girls could not have received a secondary education, even if their parents had been desirous of giving it to them. The economy of the young Soviet Republic, which had been undermined by World War I, was at that time in no position to develop a broad network of separate boys’ and girls’ secondary school, which would ensure opportunities to everyone eager to receive a secondary education.
More than a third of a century has passed since then. The principle of full equality of men and women has taken firm root in the consciousness and life of the peoples of the Soviet Union. The network of secondary schools has greatly expanded. The educational policy of the past few years was aimed at improving the educational system in the school, and figuratively speaking, at putting the finishing touches to the edifice built.
Under these conditions the time has arrived to take into account the specific features of the physical development of boys and girls, which become most pronounced at secondary-school age; the difference in the requirements in the physical training of boys and girls; a certain difference in preparing them for practical life.
Separate instruction was first introduced as an experiment in 1942-43 in a number of secondary schools in Moscow. On the basis of this experiment, secondary schools in the big cities went over to separate instruction for boys and girls. This did not affect the educational standards of study plans and curricula of the boys’ and girls’ schools; likewise the demands with regard to studies remained the same as did the rights of the graduates.
Among parents and teachers in the U.S.S.R. there was a section favouring co-education which declared that with co-education discipline among pupils would be better and progress higher. Advocates of separate schools had put forward their arguments with no less passion.
To date there were two types of secondary schools in the U.S.S.R. – separate and co-educational. The majority of the secondary schools were co-educational. Separate schools have now been acknowledged as inexpedient. Taking into account the desire of parents of school children and the opinion of schoolteachers, the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. decreed the introduction of co-education in schools in Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities beginning with the 1954-55 scholastic year.
The study plan and curriculum of the first seven secondary-school grades are entirely identical with the study plan and curriculum of the middle school. That is why the table below gives the study plans for the senior (8th -10th) grades only.
|Total study hours in first seven grades||Total study hours for entire course (1st-10th grades)|
|Russian language and reading
|Algebra, geometry, trigonometry
|Constitution of the U.S.S.R.
(Figures in brackets indicate hours in second half-year)
A comparison between the study plan of the Soviet secondary school and the study plans of secondary schools before the Revolution shows that more time is now given to general educational subjects. This has been achieved as a result of: 1) the exclusion in Soviet schools of religious instruction; 2) more school days in the Soviet school than in the pre-revolutionary school, where many days were missed because of religious holidays; 3) study of only one foreign language and the exclusion of Latin (studied only in a few Soviet schools).
The Soviet school gives considerably more hours to the study of the Russian language and literature, as well as mathematics. More hours, too, are given to natural science, physics and chemistry.
In the 8th-10th grades literature is studied from the angle of its historical development. The pupils learn about the role and importance of literature in the life of Russian society; about the national and patriotic character of Russian literature and the big role it played in the struggle for emancipation. They learn to understand the ideological essence of a literary work, its composition, plot, characters, and language; they are acquainted with the main period in the development of literature and the principal literary trends (classicism, sentimentalism, romanticism, realism), especially with the socialist realism of Soviet literature.
Russian literature, beginning with the 10th century and ending with the literature of the 20th century (including Soviet literature), as well as the literature of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. are studied in the 8th-10th grades. Furthermore, the pupils study the outstanding works of such Western authors as Shakespeare, Goethe and others. The course in literature must give pupils an idea of the great influence of Russian literature on world literature.
Great attention is given to the Russian language and literature in the Soviet school. In addition to the many hours devoted to the study of these subjects, the pupil is given material for extra-class study and themes for compositions. Love for literature is promoted by literary circles, school socials, and festivals dedicated to the memory of great writers.
The course in mathematics includes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Compared with the pre-revolutionary secondary school, the Soviet school gives a greater range of knowledge in mathematics.
The course in natural science covers instruction on anatomy and the physiology of man and on the principles of Darwinism. The teaching of these subjects is built on the firm natural-scientific and materialistic principles of Ivan Pavlov and Ivan Michurin, the great Russian scientists.
Compared with the natural science course in the pre-revolutionary school, the course given in the Soviet secondary school is bigger and broader: it is based not on description but on the laws governing nature.
Pupils finish the course in modern history and study the history of the U.S.S.R. A general characteristic of the history course, taught in Soviet schools, is contained in the preceding chapter.
Modern history shows the restricted character of bourgeois revolutions, which simply lead to a replacement of one form of exploitation of the working people by another; it shows the historic importance of the October Socialist Revolution, which liquidated all forms of exploitation.
The course in the history of the U.S.S.R. fosters love for the socialist Motherland, inculcates pride in the heroic past of the Russian and other peoples of the U.S.S.R., shows the country’s great attainments in the field of political life, state structure, economy and culture, and shows the U.S.S.R. as the country leading the world peace movement.
Pupils study the economic geography of the U.S.S.R., the People’s Democracies and the principal capitalist states. On the concrete material offered, the pupils convincingly see the tremendous advantages of the socialist system of economy, the rapid growth of the economy of all the republics of the U.S.S.R., and the steady rise of the economy of the People’s Democracies.
The three senior grades take a full course in physics: mechanics, which they study systematically, and hydro-and aero-mechanics; molecular physics and the structure of the atom; changes in the aggregate state of bodies; the operation of gas and steam; electricity and optics. Much time is devoted to work in the laboratory.
The practical application of physics is stressed throughout the course, which is especially important from the standpoint of polytechnical education. Primarily, this concerns such subdivisions as mechanics, the operation of gas and steam, and electricity-School physics laboratories are usually fitted out with workshops in which pupils are shown how to handle the simplest implements of production.
The course in chemistry covers inorganic chemistry and certain aspects of organic chemistry. Pupils must learn to apply chemical formulae, conduct experiments, use chemical utensils, Bunsen burners, and so on.
A short course in astronomy – the structure, movement and development of the celestial bodies – is taught in the 10th grade.
Methods of teaching are a systematic oral exposition by the teacher of the material (narration, explanation; lectures in the senior grades); work by the pupils with text-books and books; written and graphic work by the pupils; demonstrations and illustrations, laboratory classes (in physics, chemistry, nature study), and excursions.
The lesson is usually mixed, i.e., time is given for checking the home-work and the progress of the pupils, repeating the material already gone over and fixing it in the minds of the pupils, and imparting fresh knowledge.
To further the socialist educational importance of the general educational school and to ensure pupils finishing secondary school with the conditions for freely choosing a profession, the introduction of polytechnical education in secondary schools was started in the fifth five-year plan (1951-55) period. At the same time, the necessary measures are being taken to introduce universal polytechnical education.
Pupils finishing secondary school sit for their school-leaving certificates. They are examined in the following subjects: Russian language and literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and the history of the U.S.S.R.
The school-leaving examinations test the extent and soundness of the examinees’ knowledge, development, independent reasoning and ability to link knowledge with life, and theory with practice.
For example, at the written Russian language and literature examination the examinee must demonstrate a correct understanding of the theme and an ability to express his thoughts clearly, consecutively, in good literary language. At the oral examination he must show his understanding of the historical development of Russian literature, his knowledge of the leading works of literature, the biographies of the greatest Russian writers, the features of their art, and also his knowledge of the fundamentals of the theory of literature.
In mathematics the written examination requires of the examinee the ability to solve problems of geometry with the help of trigonometry, and give a detailed explanation and a substantiated plan of the solution. At the oral examination he must show his knowledge of the laws and rules of algebra within the limits of the full course.
Pupils finishing secondary school receive school-leaving certificates. A gold medal is awarded to pupils who receive the “5” mark for the principal subjects and for conduct. A silver medal is awarded to pupils who receive the “5” mark for their native language and “5” and “4” marks (not more than three “4” marks) for the other principal subjects.
The educational work in every class is directed by the classmaster appointed by the headmaster from among the teachers.
Every secondary school has its Young Communist League and Young Pioneer organizations.
The role that the Y.C.L. and Young Pioneer Organization play in educational work is described in the next chapter.
The Young Pioneer and Young Communist League organizations carry on extensive educational work in schools.
The Lenin Young Pioneer Organization was set up in the U.S.S.R. by the Communist Party in 1992. It is a voluntary organization of school pupils between the ages of nine and 14. To date the organization has 19 million school pupils. The Party entrusted the Y.C.L. with the direct leadership of the Young Pioneer Organization.
The Young Pioneer Organization helps the school to work for a high level of progress and discipline, cultivates in children a love for knowledge and work, trains them in a spirit of devotion to the Soviet Motherland, in a spirit of friendship among peoples.
Young Pioneers set all pupils examples of conscientious study and good conduct.
Young Pioneers are organized in groups of 40 pupils of the same or contiguous classes. The group is headed by a council of 5-7 children elected annually at the group meeting, and its work is supervised by a Young Pioneer leader, who is at the same time a member of the Y.C.L. The groups are divided into smaller groups called links with 10-20 children in each link. If the school has several groups they comprise a detachment headed by an annually elected detachment council. The detachment works under the leadership of the Senior Young Pioneer leader, who is also a member of the detachment council.
Young Pioneer group meetings accept new members into the organization, and examine the progress and conduct of the Young Pioneers. Among other activities there are talks on political, scientific and literary subjects, reading circles, singing, games and the passing of established physical training tests.
Some group meetings are conducted on a definite subject such as “In memory of V.I. Lenin,” “What to be?” and so on.
Daily activities are conducted in the Young Pioneer link, which is a close-knit body of children. The link infuses its members with a spirit of team work, friendship and comradeship, it watches the progress and discipline of each of its members, and helps them over difficulties.
Young Pioneers go on excursions to interesting historical places. Summer hikes are very popular; they are very important educationally, invigorate the children’s health, develop their endurance, dexterity and initiative, knit the collective still closer, and stimulate the children’s interest in nature.
Young Pioneers make themselves useful to society by sharing in the planting of greenery in towns and villages, and in laying out school experimental plots and gardens. During the Great Patriotic War Young Pioneers collected scrap metal, helped in the work of the collective farms, stored up firewood for schools and for the families of men serving in the army.
Young Pioneer summer camps, that accommodate several shifts of Young Pioneers each season, give town children an opportunity to spend their holidays in the country.
In 1953 more than 5,500,000 children and juveniles spent the summer at suburban and town Young Pioneer camps, children’s sanatoriums, excursion and tourist centres; many of them were taken out to the countryside for the holidays.
Special mention may be made of the Artek Young Pioneer camp which has splendid premises on the southern shore of the Crimea. In the time that it has been in existence, tens of thousands of Young Pioneers from all the republics of the Soviet Union spent their summer holidays there and took away with them indelible impressions.
An extensive and varied extra-school activity is conducted by Young Pioneer palaces and houses, which in 1951 numbered more than 1,200. These institutions have beautiful buildings with spacious halls for concerts, meetings, lectures, and socials.
For instance, one of the Young Pioneer palaces in Leningrad occupies the former imperial Anichkov Palace. It has its technical, science, art, and physical culture sections, a library and general activities departments. The technical section at this palace is subdivided into departments which include: aviation engineering, transport, photography and cinema, communications (radio, telephone, and telegraph), power, a mechanics and an art room, a woodwork and mechanical shop, a machine-designing room, and so on.
Technical, art, and physical-culture circles are especially active in Young Pioneer palaces and houses.
The Moscow City Young Pioneer House likewise teems with a many-sided activity. For instance, a lecture with the help of diapositives or a cinema is usually on in the lecture hall. At the same time in the big hall there is a concert, a theatrical performance or an all-Moscow meeting of Young Historians, Geographers or Artists. Meetings are often arranged between Young Pioneers and scientists, writers, and artists. Various circles carry on their activities in the different rooms.
The entire make-up of the Moscow Young Pioneer House, beginning with the park around it and the flower-beds, and ending with the elegant simple furnishing of every room, its entire plan and varied activities, is, as in many other Young Pioneer houses, permeated with love for children, solicitude for their welfare, understanding of their interests, and an aspiration to develop their creative abilities.
All middle and secondary schools have organizations of the Lenin Young Communist League.
The Y.C.L. is a mass non-Party organization of working and peasant youth which aims to give the Party all-out assistance in the work of building communism and training the rising generation. The Party created and reared the Y.C.L. as its dependable reserve, from which it draws new workers for all branches of state, economic and cultural construction. Formed in 1918, the Y.C.L. now unites 18 million young men and girls. It has travelled a long and glorious path. The deeds of its members in the Civil War are immortal. In the Great Patriotic War the Soviet youth displayed an unswerving devotion to their country, great courage and staunchness. In the years of peaceful work, members of the Y.C.L. led the entire Soviet youth in the most difficult sectors of socialist construction. Soviet young men and girls are setting examples of conscientious labour in industry, in the transport, and in agriculture. The Y.C.L. actively helps the Communist Party in state and economic construction.
The Twelfth Congress of the Young Communist League, held in March 1954, defined the tasks of the Y.C.L. in the school. The Congress recognized that an important duty of the Y.C.L. was to assist in further advancing the Soviet school and improving the training and upbringing of pupils and students.
The Y.C.L. was called upon to help the youth in every way possible to master knowledge and advanced science and technique and to be able skilfully to apply this knowledge in practice.
Y.C.L. organizations must infuse pupils with love for their socialist Motherland; they must help teachers to train children to be industrious, to strive for knowledge, to care for public property, and to be honest and truthful.
Because it attaches great importance to raising the general educational standard of the working youth, the Y.C.L. must encourage young men and girls to study at evening schools, correspondence and evening institutes, and technical schools.
The Young Communist League bent every effort to help organize public education in the U.S.S.R. Special note must be made of the great role played by the Y.C.L. in introducing universal education, in the organization of schools for young industrial and agricultural workers, schools of the labour reserve system (vocational, railway, and factory schools), in promoting physical culture and sports, etc. The Y.C.L. shared actively in every big-scale undertaking in the field of public education.
Extensive extra-school and extra-class work is carried on with children in the Soviet Union.
Extra-class work is any educational undertaking conducted in school over and above the curriculum before or after lessons. Extra-class work is one of the best ways of providing polytechnical education.
Extra-school work is the work of special institutions, which together with and supplementing the school, cater to the various interests of children and sensibly organize their spare time.
There are two forms of extra-class work in school: circle work and mass undertakings.
Circles are organized for school children beginning with the 3rd grade. The different circles may be classed into the following main groups:
General educational (literature, history, geography, Young Naturalists’, mathematics, etc.).
Art (dramatic, choir, music, painting and drawing, choreography, etc.).
Work and technical (“Skilful Hands” circle for pupils of the 3rd-5th grades, circles for the study of the tractor, photography, circles of wireless amateurs, aircraft model builders, dress-making circles, etc.).
Physical culture circles.
Children participate in the work of circles on a wholly voluntary basis. They are grouped in whatever circle they wish, irrespective of their grade or age. Every circle is supervised by a teacher and has its own plan of work which it seeks to make useful to and needed by society. This can be seen from the fact that during the Great Patriotic War, school art circles performed with prepared programmes (singing, music, declamations, excerpts from plays) in hospitals. Young Technicians’ and Naturalists’ circles work on the preparation of many schoolroom appliances (apparatuses, herbariums, collections).
From time to time at school socials these circles organize exhibitions of their achievements. Big schools have up to ten different circles, and small schools have from two to five circles.
Mass extra-school work consists of school socials and celebrations, plays, concerts, exhibitions, excursions, meetings between school children and writers and scientists, school lectures, etc.
Every school has a library. In addition to lending books these libraries carry on a varied activity. Children are taught the proper use of catalogues; libraries hold readers’ conferences (at which children speak of the most interesting books they read) and literary evenings, recommend new books, and so on.
Big schools have clubs that unify and direct all extra-class work. General supervision of the school club is in the hands of the headmaster, but the immediate work is carried on by the club board which is made up of teachers and pupils.
Some schools carry on interesting and original forms of mass work. The 110th Secondary School in Moscow, for instance, holds annual reunions of old pupils. Among them are people of several generations; students, and people of different professions, who had parted with the school and student desks long ago: engineers, doctors, teachers, agronomists, artists, and others. At these reunions old pupils toast the pupils of the senior grade and the teachers, report on their work, and share reminiscences. The atmosphere at these gatherings is always gay, warm, and intimate.
The U.S.S.R. has numerous extra-school children’s establishments of various types, most important of which are Young Pioneer palaces and houses. There is a large number of children’s libraries.
The country also has a vast network of children’s libraries and children’s departments at libraries for adults. These libraries have reading-rooms and carry on educational work on a big scale: they organize story-telling circles, book exhibitions, etc.
Young spectator theatres and children’s cinemas function in many cities, as do children’s art houses, whose activity is directed by the Scientific-Research Institute for the Artistic Training of Children of the Academy of Pedagogical Science of the R.S.F.S.R. The institute’s activity in providing children with music, fine arts and other artistic training is considerable.
Young Naturalists’ centres dot the entire country. Their work is unified and directed by the Young Naturalists’ Central Station in Moscow. These extra-school institutions seek to cultivate in children a love and interest for nature, to train their powers of observation, and to teach them the fundamentals of agriculture. Young Naturalists conduct experimental work on plots of land belonging to each centre, plant fruit-trees, berry bushes, select seeds, and so on.
Similar aims in technique are pursued by Young Technicians’ centres, whose work is guided by the Central Young Technicians’ Station.
Children’s railways with 5-10 kilometre-long tracks, that have been built in a number of Union Republics, are an original form of extra-school work. These railways are run entirely by children, who act as stationmasters, mechanists, dispatchers, etc.; this develops a sense of accuracy, punctuality, and responsibility.
Extra-school physical culture work is conducted by children’s ski stations, skating rinks, and so on.
The Central Children’s Excursion and Tourist Station has a big programme of extra-school work. The Vorontsov Secondary School, Adler District, Krasnodar Territory, may be pointed out as an example of how important the results of well-organized tourist work can be. During excursions and hikes the pupils of this school discovered new mineral deposits, dug up many valuable archeological remains, and opened a new medicinal spring.
Parallel with special extra-school children’s institutions,
extra-school work is also conducted in big blocks of flats or by the
joint efforts of the tenants of several houses. Here the tenants
organize children’s clubs with libraries, playgrounds, playrooms, etc.
This work is carried on by parents in contact with the nearest schools
and Young Pioneer houses.
Already in the early years after the Great October Socialist Revolution the Communist Party and the Soviet Government launched upon an intensive activity to educate semi-literate adults, widely drawing the Soviet public into this work. Schools for adults were opened beginning with 1920. These were evening schools which taught the usual elementary-school course in two years. The annual number of adults attending these schools was very high, reaching 4,200,000 in 1933.
In addition to these elementary schools, advanced schools were opened, which later were recognized into middle and secondary schools for adults.
The graduation examinations were the same as in the ordinary middle and secondary school and entitled the graduates to the same status. There are tens of thousands of engineers, doctors, teachers, agronomists, and other qualified professional men in the Soviet Union today who received their secondary education in schools for adults before entering an institution of higher learning.
The number of middle and secondary schools for adults naturally diminished during the first years of the Great Patriotic War. Later, the educational system for adults was reorganized.
In place of the middle and secondary schools for adults there are now correspondence secondary schools. Schools of a new type were opened, these being schools for young industrial and agricultural workers.
The necessity for opening these schools arose because during the Great Patriotic War large numbers of juveniles and young people had to leave school and go to work at factories and plants, offices, hospitals, etc. At the same time they strove to continue their education.
There are two types of schools for young industrial workers: the middle school consisting of the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades, and the secondary schools consisting of 5th-10th grades. There used to be preparatory groups for young people who had not finished elementary school, but since 1953 there are elementary schools for young industrial workers.
These schools accept young workers of both sexes between the ages of 14 and 25, employed at factories and plants, mines, the railway, and offices.
Graduates sit for their middle school-leaving examinations (for seven classes) and for their school-leaving certificate upon completion of the 10-year secondary school.
The lessons are adapted to the conditions in production, and are conducted in shifts (morning, afternoon, evening). Insofar as lessons in these schools are attended by young people engaged in production, the curriculum is different from that of the ordinary (children’s) middle and secondary schools and the lessons are organized accordingly.
The usual programme in the middle and secondary schools for young industrial workers is passed in about two-thirds of the study time set for children’s schools. Nevertheless the pupils of these schools manage to master the curriculum in this compressed time, and not only do they pass the entrance examinations to technical schools and institutes, but, according to professors in institutions of higher learning, they display outstanding ability for conscientious study. This is due to several reasons:
The majority of people entering schools for young industrial workers are young me and women with a certain experience of life, great will and persistence, enthusiasts eager for knowledge. Great will and an ability to surmount difficulties are needed to combine work in production and several years of study. The pupils attending these schools comprise the advanced youth in factories and plants.
Individual coaching by teachers and consultations are well organized in these schools, and already in the 5th-6th grades pupils are able to work independently.
The Communist Party and the Soviet Government devote much attention and care of these schools. Pupils sitting for school-leaving examinations are allowed additional 20 days’ leave with pay, and those sitting for middle-school graduation examinations – 15 days. The enterprise employing them is obliged to give pupils leave to sit for the examinations whenever they request it. Tuition is free in all grades. Pupils are exempt from work when it conflicts with the time necessary for their studies.
Evening schools for young agricultural workers accept pupils between the ages of 14-25. Study hours do not conflict with the working day of the pupils.
There are two types of schools: elementary (1st-4th grades) and middle (1st-7th grades) schools. Lessons are held five days a week for four hours a day from November 1 to May 1.
Evening classes are organized in cases when there is an insufficient number of pupils to warrant opening a full school (elementary or middle). This makes it possible to ensure education even to small groups of young agricultural workers.
After finishing middle school these young people may enter a technical school.
Schools for young industrial and agricultural workers are developing successfully. In 1953 their enrolment was 1,700,000.
In the U.S.S.R. state educational establishments for orphans are called children’s homes.
Organization of these homes began with the establishment of Soviet power.
Socialist humanism and the constant care and attention given children by the Communist Party, the Soviet Government, and the entire Soviet people are vividly expressed in the organization of children’s homes.
In the U.S.S.R. the upbringing and education of orphans is looked upon as a matter of state importance.
In the years when our country lived through great trials (the foreign intervention during the Civil War, the Great Patriotic War), these homes saved many hundreds of thousands of children who had lost their parents.
Children’s home differ according to the age of their inmates and the purpose they serve.
Age is taken into account in the organization of homes for children of pre-school age (three-to seven) and for children of school age (seven to 14-16).
Special purpose homes include homes for children who lost their parents in the Great Patriotic War, homes of a sanatorium type and others.
In training and educating children these homes base their work on the general aims of the communist upbringing of Soviet youth. They see that children receive an all-round development – mental education, physical, moral and esthetic training, and polytechnical education.
Many of the boys and girls from these homes have received a higher education and are now engineers, agronomists, doctors, and pedagogues. Many of them fought courageously for their country during the Patriotic War and were awarded military Orders and Medals. Some were decorated with the honoured title of Hero of the Soviet Union, others became prominent scientists, artists and musicians.
Hero of the Soviet Union Alexander Matrosov, whose courage and valour brought him immortal fame, grew up in a children’s home. Heroes of the Soviet Union Bokov, Moyseyev and Selsky lived in a children’s home in Barnual. Ivanov, the well-known Soviet conductor and talented musician, too, lived in a children’s home. Numerous similar examples may be cited.
Such results are attained because the children’s home with its clear-cut regime, well-organized educational work, industrious routine of the entire body of teachers and pupils, and intelligent arrangement of leisure develops in the children a conscious discipline, firm will and ability to overcome difficulties. Amateur art work is at a very high level in many children’s homes.
While living in these homes the children attend the nearest school in the vicinity in order to receive a general education.
Middle-school education is compulsory for all children in children’s homes. Gifted children as well as those who excel in their studies may continue their education in the 8th-10th grades and later enter an institution of higher learning.
Labour upbringing and labour training form a component part of education in children’s homes. This is done to infuse children with a love and habit for work in order to master a profession. For this purpose all homes for children of school age have workshops. Furthermore, children help in the housekeeping, in the field, vegetable garden, orchard, and take part in the work of technical circles.
Different circles work is very wide-spread in children’s homes: literary, local lore, Young Naturalists’, history, and especially amateur talent – dramatic, choral and music, choreographic, fine arts. Many children’s homes have big libraries. For instance, the children’s home at the Pravda Railway Station, Moscow Region, has a library of 13,000 books. In many homes there are physical-culture circles, chess circles, and so on.
Tens of thousands of pedagogues are working in children’s homes throughout the country, and many have dedicated their lives to bringing up children who lost their parents.
A large share of the educational work is taken by the Y.C.L. and Young Pioneer organizations. Most of the children in these homes are Young Pioneers, while more than 40 per cent of the older children are members of the Y.C.L.
In conclusion I would like to say a few words about educational establishments like the special children’s home directed by Anton Semyonovich Makarenko, the remarkable educator. This type of school is undoubtedly of great pedagogical interest.
In 1920 the Provincial Department of Public Education in Poltava commissioned A.S. Makarenko to organize near the city a labour colony for juvenile delinquents.
This work had to be started under extraordinarily difficult conditions – the colony was given a small estate with tumble-down premises that had neither doors nor floors. The juveniles sent to the colony were undisciplined and refused to work.
Makarenko selflessly put all his energy into the work and in three years he had a model institution – the Maxim Gorky Labour Colony with a close-knit and industrious body of inmates and a splendidly organized household.
A model discipline and a tradition of its own were established in this model colony thanks to Makarenko’s pedagogical talent. The juveniles learned the meaning of civic duty and held high the honour of their colony.
The principles on which Makarenko based his teaching were: training in a collective spirit, training in work, training discipline, a sense of duty, dignity, and honour, imbuing the spirit of Soviet patriotism. With their labour the juveniles satisfied all the needs of the colony and studied in school at the same time.
The work of the juveniles was organized in groups, each group consisting of a different number of boys and girls of various ages, and led by one of the juveniles. A commanders’ council was organized and under Makarenko’s supervision it decided the most important questions of the life and work of the inmates, examined any misconduct on the part of the inmates and recommended the punishment, which was imposed by Makarenko as the head of the colony.
This remarkable teacher knew how to combine the authority of a pedagogue with extensive rights for the members of the colony; he was exacting to his charges but he combined this with affection for them. In organizing the educational work in the colony he skilfully coupled elements of work and games.
Great importance was attached to traditions and symbolatry: signals of the bugler, reports, simple uniform, banner, brass band, etc. These elements embellished the life of the juveniles and contributed towards establishing discipline.
In 1926 the colony left its splendidly organized establishment near Poltava on its own initiative (by permission of the People’s Commissariat for Public Education) and moved to a colony of juvenile delinquents in Kuryazh, near Kharkov, where because of incompetently arranged educational work 280 inmates had got out of hand completely and came to the colony to sleep and eat. The extensive land of the Kuryazh colony was not cultivated.
With skilful methods and assisted by his pupils, Makarenko quickly subordinated the Kuryazh juveniles to his influence; these unruly juveniles speedily became disciplined members of the Gorky Colony.
After visiting the colony in 1928, Maxim Gorky wrote:
“Who could change so unrecognizably and re-educate hundreds of children whom life had so cruelly and rudely injured? The organizer and director of the colony is A.S. Makarenko. He is unquestionably a talented pedagogue.”
In a letter to Makarenko in 1933, Gorky wrote:
“In my opinion your very valuable and amazingly successful experiment is of world importance.”
Makarenko’s pedagogical activity at the Dzerzhinsky Labour Commune (1927-1935) in the outskirts of Kharkov was a continuation and development of his work in the Gorky Colony. This was an educational establishment for waifs and juvenile delinquents.
Two complex industrial enterprises (producing cameras and electric drills) were organized at the Dzerzhinsky Commune. All the children worked in these enterprises four hours a day and gave the rest of their time to study in secondary school.
The economic effectiveness of this industry of the members of the commune is attested to by the following data: all capital investments in factory premises and equipment were defrayed in a few years as were all the running expenses for the upkeep of several hundred pupils and a teaching staff; moreover, on January 1, 1934 the commune had 3,600,000 rubles on its current in the bank.
At the Dzerzhinsky Commune A.S. Makarenko brilliantly proved in practice the possibility of combining successful study in middle-school with paid productive labour of children and juveniles in highly technical production.
Extra-school work was varied and organized on a big scale. This included such activities as educational, technical, art and physical-culture circles, the recreation club, theatre, cinema and the library.
After finishing secondary school at the commune, its members successfully passed the entrance examinations to institutions of higher learning.
The educational establishments directed by A.S. Makarenko made new people of former waifs and juvenile delinquents. They became people of socialist society: aviators, engineers, agronomists, teachers, doctors, skilled workers, chauffeurs, and so on. During the Great Patriotic War many of them were awarded Orders and Medals for valour, while some were decorated with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
The Gorky Colony is artistically described by Makarenko in his book The Road to Life,* while another book that he wrote, Learning to Live,** deals with the Dzerzhinsky Commune. These books are read with pleasure not only by the young, but also by people of all ages. In addition, Makarenko theoretically generalized his remarkable pedagogical experience in pedagogical articles and lectures, and in his A Book for Parents.***
Today all the Union Republics of the U.S.S.R. have scores of homes for orphans where educational work is organized on a sound basis.
In pre-revolutionary Russia children with physical and physical deficiencies (blind, deaf-and-dumb, mentally backward children) were neglected by the state. The few schools and asylums that did exist depended on public charity for their maintenance. These charity asylums were organized with the sole purpose of teaching the inmates a trade, in other words, this “charity” was a means of creating cheap labour.
In the Soviet Union the teaching of blind, deaf-and-dumb, and mentally backward children is organized on a completely different basis.
The humane and sympathetic attitude of the Soviet Government and Soviet society to physically deformed and mentally backward children resulted in the setting up of several scientific-research institutions and many special schools. The state publishes many textbooks for blind (on the Braille principle), deaf-and-dumb, and mentally backward children, and has established defectology faculties for the training of teachers for these children.
Through the efforts of prominent Soviet defectologists like Professors L.V. Zankov, F.A. Rau, D.I. Azbukin, B.I. Kovalenko, and others, the following have been elaborated as special branches of pedagogical science: typhlopedagogy (teaching and training the blind), surdopedagogy (teaching and training the deaf-and-dumb), oligophrenopedagogy (teaching and training mentally backward children), and logopedia (correcting physical defects in the speech of children).
Special schools and other institutions provide physically deformed and mentally backward children with general-educational knowledge and professional training. All these are boarding-schools where the children live and study at state expense, irrespective of whether they have parents or not.
There are special elementary, middle and secondary schools for the blind, where the term of study is only a year longer than in the usual school. During this time the pupils of schools for the blind, in addition to getting the same education as in a general educational school, receive a professional training that enables them to work in some field.
After finishing the special secondary school, many blind pupils successfully continue their studies at universities, pedagogical institutes, and certain other institutions of higher learning. Thus do Soviet special schools for the blind essentially differ from the pre-revolutionary charity asylums for the blind, which gave blind children an elementary learning and were chiefly concerned with training them in some trade.
Schools for the deaf-and-dumb offer a nine-year study course in which the children learn to speak intelligently and distinctly, get an elementary-school education and a vocational training. Since 1943 experiments have been conducted to raise the education of deaf-and-dumb children to the level of the middle school. These experiments have already yielded positive results: deaf-and-dumb children finishing these schools were successful at entrance examinations to industrial vocational schools. Some mass schools have logopedical centres (in the R.S.F.S.R. there are more than 150 such centres) staffed by qualified specialists, where the speech of children is corrected.
Auxiliary schools for mentally backward children offer a seven-year study course during which they give their pupils the usual elementary-school education and a vocational training.
Extensive educational work – socials, celebrations, lectures and so on – is carried on in special schools; while different circles are also very active.
Some pedagogical institutes (in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev) have defectology faculties that train qualified teachers for these special schools. Salaries for teachers in these schools are 25 per cent higher than in ordinary schools.
At present the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R has Scientific-Research Institutes of Defectology with clinics and laboratories. There is such an institute in Kiev as well.
A striking example of the signal achievements of Soviet defectology pedagogues is the training and education of Olga Ivanovna Skorokhodova, a blind and deaf-and-dumb girl.
Olga Skorokhodova was born in a peasant family. At the age of five she turned blind and deaf following a severe illness, and when she was about nine years old she lost her speech. She was ten years old when she was brought to Kharkov and placed in a special institution for the blind and deaf-and-dumb. Here she learned to speak and received an education.
In her book The World as I Perceive It, published in 1947 exactly as Olga Skorokhodova wrote it, she says:
“It is only in our country where the demarcation line between the physical and mental labour of man is being obliterated, where we can all put our knowledge to good purpose in any sphere of life, that a blind and deaf-and-dumb girl like me can become an equal member of society, a politically conscious daughter of her beloved socialist Motherland; although deaf and blind I am a member of the Young Communist League; now that I have regained the faculty of speech I can address T.C.L. meetings; due to the fact that my education, training, and mental development was guided by such a talented specialist as I. A. Sokolyansky, I developed normally and came to love many good things of life. Constant reading (and I read much) developed my literary language and urged me on to write. I do not claim any credit and do not consider myself as extraordinary. I consider myself an ordinary Soviet girl who passionately wants to learn and learn. Without the slightest doubt or bragging I say of myself that I love to work: from morning till night I am busy with something and looking for things I can do.”
Olga Skorokhodova is thoroughly acquainted both with Soviet fiction and the Russian classics, and with the greatest works of world literature. She has a fine feeling for criticism. She is very keen on the works of Pushkin and Gorky and dreams of devoting herself to a study of Gorky’s art. She does modelling and has a delicate sense for the beauty of sculptural work. She possesses a rich literary talent, as may be judged from her poem. It is beautiful in form and profound in content, emotion and poetic ideas, and has been printed in the book mentioned above. To cite but a few lines from this poem:
Thought It Is By Many
Thought it is by many – those acute of hearing,
Those who see the sunlight, and the moon who see:
“What knows she of beauty, one bereft of seeing,
What deaf ear can fathom springtide’s melody!?”
Well I sense the odours and the damp of meadows,
And my skipping fingers feel the flutt’ring leaf,
As I roam at twilight deep aimed the shadows
Where there’s love and visions and no place for grief.
I’ve my soul to see with, I’ve my heart to hear with,
And with winged ambition I’ll embrace the earth.
Is it every human that is stirred by beauty,
Though he hears and sees it from his very birth?
The World as I Perceive It, written on the basis of long years of self-observation, undoubtedly contains much material for scientific study by psychologists and defectologists. To date Olga Skorokhodova has written a second book, The World as I Imagine It. It must be expected that this book contains still more material for scientific conclusions in the sphere of defectology.
The results of the training and education received by Olga Skorokhodova – her materialistic world outlook, high ideological and political level, rich intellect, artistic development, literary talent, will and cheerfulness, her striving for work, vivacity, her aversion to mysticism and philistinism – place her incomparably higher than Helen Keller, the blind and deaf-and-dumb woman celebrated abroad.
Olga Sokorokhodova is vivid proof of the great advances made by Soviet pedagogy, by the Soviet educational system.
Elementary Vocational Training
Vocational schools were instituted in 1920 to train skilled workers for the industrial enterprises where they had been opened.
In 1921 there were 43 vocational schools with an enrolment of 2,000, but by 1939 the country already had 1,535 such schools with more than 242,000 pupils.
The construction of large plants requiring huge numbers of skilled workers, the rapid growth of socialist industry, and the necessity of constantly supplying it with workers, raised the question of organizing under state supervision the training of cadres from among town and rural youth – the creation of labour reserves.
In October 1940 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. issued a decree “On State Labour Reserves of the U.S.S.R.” This decree explained the necessity for going over to a new system of training workers.
“Unemployment has been completely abolished in our country. Poverty and ruin in town and village have been done away with for all time. As a result, there are no people in our country knocking at the gates of factory and plant, asking for work and in this way spontaneously forming a permanent labour reserve for the industry.
“Under these conditions the Government is faced with the task of organizing the training of new workers from among the town and collective-farm youth, and of creating the necessary labour reserves for the industry.”
This decree established:
1) trade schools with a two-year course for the training of skilled
workers – metal-workers, metallurgists, chemical workers miners,
oil-industry workers, and others;
2) railway schools with a two-year course for the training of skilled workers for the railway transport;
3) factory and trade schools with a six months’ course for training workers for the general trades.
The pupils of all these schools are maintained by the state (free tuition, food, clothes, footwear, underwear, text-book; and schoolroom appliances, and living quarters). Pupils of vocational and railway schools wear uniforms.
An essential feature of the new organization of the training of skilled workers is that it is planned with great precision on a countrywide scale. Formerly when this training was given in vocational schools the attention that the training of workers received was different in the various enterprises, organizing these schools; there was extreme disharmony in the content and methods of training new workers; enrolment was confined almost exclusively to young people working in the industry. Now these schools embrace the collective-farm youth as well. An authoritative and powerful guiding centre appeared – the Ministry of Labour Reserves, now the Central Board of Labour Reserves at the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. It co-ordinated all matters pertaining to organization, study, and methodology. Experts on methodology were drawn into the work, and conditions created for the training and advanced training of teachers. Uniform study plans and curricula have been worked out for the different types of trades schools and they are in force throughout the Soviet Union.
Trades and railway schools enrol juveniles of both sexes between the age of 14-15, possessing at least an elementary education (actually the majority of pupils possess a middle school education).
The study plans of trades schools vary depending on the training they offer their pupils and on the general educational grounding received by the pupils before entering these schools; but all schools teach: 1) production and technology; 2) general educational and general technical subjects; and 3) physical culture.
In 1952 the study plan in schools teaching very wide-spread trades, such as repair fitter, industrial equipment assembly or installation fitter, and building machines assembly or installation fitter, was as given in the table on page 142 (total study hours for two-year course)
After finishing a trades or railway school the pupils pass a qualifying examination and are placed in industry where they are paid the same wages as other workers.
|Study of materials
|Total for entire course (2 grades)|
Factory schools enrol pupils between the ages of 16-18. The term of study is from six months to one year, depending on the trade. These schools train workers for the less complex and general trades such as plasterers, carpenters, coal-hewers, and so on.
Extensive educational work is carried on in the trades, railway and factory schools to raise the ideological and political level of the pupils, to strengthen their conscious discipline, to imbue them with a creative attitude to labour, and to train them esthetically and physically. Scores of houses of culture, about 600 recreation clubs and several thousand libraries were built and equipped at state expense for the pupils of these schools.
The system of training workers in trades and factory schools for factories, plants and construction works has yielded excellent results and was spread to other branches of the national economy. For example, mining industry vocational schools with a seven-year course and mining-industry schools (after the pattern of the factory school) have been opened for the children of miners to train skilled workers for the mining industry.
Schools for the mechanization of agriculture to train mechanization experts have been set up on the basis of the decisions of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on September 7, 1953 “On Measure for the Further Development of Agriculture in the U.S.S.R.”
In addition to the vocational schools described above there are courses offering elementary vocational training directly at industrial enterprises. Every factory and plant has various technical circles, schools and courses where the young worker can learn any trade or raise his skill. Another form of training cadres now widely practised is that of brigade and individual apprenticeship – the more skilled foremen and workers training novices on the job.
Secondary Vocational Training
Medium-level personnel for the different branches of industry, transport and agriculture are trained in technical schools (technicums). Medium-level medical personnel (midwives, doctor’s assistants) are trained in medical schools, while pedagogical schools train teachers for the elementary schools. There are also theatrical, music, art and other secondary schools.
To date there are more than 3,500 technical schools and other secondary vocational establishments. In 1953 these schools had 1,644,000 pupils (including those taking correspondence courses).
The training period is usually four years. Persons between the ages of 14 and 30, who have a middle-school education, are eligible on the basis of entrance examinations.
The curriculum includes general subjects (literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc.), special subjects in accordance with the vocation taught by the establishment, and practical work in industry.
The technical and other schools have well-equipped laboratories, workshops and classrooms. The lessons take the form of lectures, discussions, practical work in laboratories and workshops, and excursions. Considerable time is devoted to practical work: in industry and in agriculture, in hospitals (for medical schools) and in schools (for pedagogical schools).
On completing technical school the student sits for the final state examination, or submits his graduation thesis. All graduates are given posts according to their profession, or can, if they so wish, continue their studies in an institution of higher learning. Technical school students who graduate with honours do not have to work the required three years in their given profession before entering an institution of higher learning.
Thus, the secondary vocational school in the Soviet Union differs form similar establishments in bourgeois countries where entrance to institutions of higher learning is limited to children finishing the general educational secondary school (lycée, college, etc.).
In bourgeois countries the secondary vocational establishments, which are attended by juveniles who have finished elementary school, or, at best, an advanced elementary school, give their pupils almost exclusively a vocational training and do not broaden their meagre general knowledge. The secondary vocational school in the U.S.S.R., apart from providing a thorough vocational training, furnishes its pupils with the general education needed to enter an institution of higher learning.
The lot of the teacher, especially of a teacher in a rural elementary school, was a bitter one in pre-revolutionary Russia. Characterizing the position of school teachers at that time, V.I. Lenin wrote that they received starvation wages, were surrounded by suspicion and “hunted” like rabbits.
Such is the condition of school teachers today in the capitalist countries.
The American press reports that in the state of Michigan, U.S.A., the teacher often receives less than the garbage collector; that in the state of Missouri the school teacher with a university degree earns not more than a hall-porter; that the milk delivery man usually earns twice as much as a teacher and that it is more profitable for young people to take up delivering milk or cleaning streets than to take up teaching. The woman teacher is paid less than the man for the same work, while salaries for Negro teachers are almost half the salaries received by the white teachers.
Especially bitter is the lot of country teachers in the U.S.A. A girl holds the job of school teacher until she has the first opportunity to get married; average service among teachers in U.S. elementary schools is extremely short – about two years. The school teacher is under constant political and religious supervision, always threatened with dismissal, and with finding himself “black-listed” for “dangerous thoughts.”
More than half the children in the U.S.A. attend single-group country schools; in some states these single-group schools (with one teacher) comprise 80-85 per cent of all elementary schools. This means that one teacher conduct 6-8 classes and gives each class very little time. Moreover, the teacher has to spend every evening preparing for 18-25 lessons (at least thee lessons for each of the 6-8 classes) and going through the written work of his pupils. All this makes the pedagogical work of U.S. elementary-school teachers unbearably difficult.
The position of the teacher in the U.S.S.R. is quite different. Soviet pedagogy attaches great importance to the teacher, who plays the main and decisive role in educational work.
A fervent patriot of his Motherland, the educator of the rising generation, the teacher, who actively helps the Party in the struggle to build communism, must have an integral scientific world outlook, a broad general and a profound theoretical knowledge, be highly proficient in his profession, and understand and love children. The teacher must be a moral example to his pupils; he educate them in the spirit of communist ideology and morals.
The teacher’s contribution to the common work of building communism is highly appreciated by the Communist Party and the Soviet Government. “The phalanx of school teachers,” J.V. Stalin stated as early as 1925, “is one of the most essential units of the great army of working people in our country who are building a new life on the basis of socialism.”*
* J. Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, p. 3.
By their work in the school, their participation in public life and their defence of the country in the difficult years of the Great Patriotic War, hundreds of thousands of Soviet teachers showed that they are worthy of the high trust placed in them by the people, and that they are honourably doing their duty to the Motherland.
With the cultural development of the Soviet land the army of teachers grew immensely. Increasing demands were made on them. In 1914-15 the general educational schools of pre-revolutionary Russia were staffed by 231,007 teachers. Today, the U.S.S.R. has considerably more than one and a half million teachers.
Work on a big scale was started to build a network of higher and secondary pedagogical institutions, courses, methodological centres, and other such establishments to train this vast number of teachers in a comparatively short space of time.
Teachers have been trained for the non-Russian schools and especially for the peoples, which formerly had no written language of their own. These include the Bashkir, Mordovian, Buryat, Nenets, Khakass, Komi, Mari, Kirghiz, and other peoples.
The U.S.S.R. has a stable body of teachers. This is explained to a considerable degree by the care and solicitude surrounding the teacher in the country. Teachers can be transferred from one school to another only by the regional department of public education. Headmasters are appointed only by the Ministry of Public Education of each Union Republic. The U.S.S.R. has numerous teachers with 20-25 years of pedagogical service. Many teachers with a long-service record continue to advance in their profession by studying at correspondence courses offered by pedagogical institutes.
The peoples of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Government hold the work of teachers in great esteem, and mark their services with high rewards.
V.I. Lenin wrote that “Our school teacher should be raised to a standard never achieved and unachievable in bourgeois society.”* The peoples of the U.S.S.R. show their esteem for the Soviet teachers by electing many of them to leading organs of the state: the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics; to area, district, city and rural Soviets of Working People’s Deputies.
* V.I. Lenin, Selected Works, Two-Vol. ed., Vol. II, Part 2, pp. 711-12.
In the Soviet state long and honourable activity in educating children is regarded as a labour exploit, a service to the people. A special act of legislature established the award to teachers of Orders and Medals for long and exemplary service. More than 100,000 teachers have been decorated with Orders and Medals of the Soviet Union.
Teachers in the Soviet Union enjoy a number of privileges and priorities. The title of Honoured Teacher has been instituted. The Soviet teacher receives the same salary as engineers and technical personnel. He gets periodical salary raises (for every five years of service). Teachers in outlying districts receive higher salaries. After 25 years of service teachers receive pensions. They have their sanatoriums and holiday homes in the Crimea, the Caucasus, and other health resorts, and they have their “Teachers’ centres” – recreation clubs with libraries and reading-rooms, study rooms, and concert halls – in every city of the Soviet Union.
It is but natural that the great solicitude shown by the Soviet state for the teacher, and the warm esteem he is held in by the people should make teaching in the U.S.S.R. one of the most important and honoured professions.
The most favourable conditions exist in the Soviet Land for advancing the honoured and responsible work of the teacher, for educating active, highly principled, and cultured builders and defenders of communist society.
It is difficult to over-estimate the role and importance of the higher school in the life of Soviet society. The higher school moulds cadres of the Soviet intelligentsia who are called upon to advance science, technique, and culture.
Vitally interested in raising culture to the highest level, the Soviet state has placed at the disposal of higher education facilities for growth and development such as no capitalist country ever possessed.
We have already mentioned that the number of institutions of higher learning and their student bodies had increased many times over since the establishment of the Soviet state. This increase has not been quantitative only. Higher education has undergone a fundamental qualitative change. All the Union Republics have their institutions of higher learning; so have the regions where, in the past, the population was deprived of elementary schooling, let alone higher education. Soviet universities and institutes are today attended not by the sons of manufacturers, big landlords and high officials, but by the sons and daughters of the people, of workers, peasants, and the working intelligentsia. The Soviet state has created the conditions that make for the truly mass character of higher education, that bring it within reach of all working people of the Soviet Union.
In the early years of the Soviet state (1919), Workers’ Faculties were organized for the purpose of proletarianizing the higher school and training specialists from among the workers and peasants. The job of these Faculties was to prepare people for entry into institutions of higher learning. In 1928 there were 56,663 students in Workers’ Faculties, but by 1932-33 their number rose to more than 339,500. In subsequent years, with the rapid increase in the number of secondary schools for children and adults, the number of Workers’ Faculties decreased; the need for them had passed as the secondary school became the main source of preparing students for institutions of higher learning. Workers’ Faculties played an important role in preparing cadres of the Soviet intelligentsia. They enabled hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants to implement the right to a higher education that the Revolution had won for them.
Before the Revolution only a very small number of women in Russia had access to higher education in special women’s colleges and a few institutions of higher learning. They were barred from the universities and higher technical colleges. In the Soviet Union all institutions of higher learning are open to men and women alike. During the war women constituted the overwhelming majority of students; but even before the war they accounted for a very high percentage of the student body: in 1938, for instance, they made up 43.1 per cent of the total number of students.
The system of teaching in the higher school has been radically reorganized. Institutions of higher learning in pre-revolutionary Russia did not go in for specialization, their curricula were very general and superficial. For instance, the technological and polytechnical institutes did not go in for specialization. They graduated mechanical and chemical engineers in general.
The Soviet higher school gives the student a thorough and specific training. The industrial institutes graduate mechanical and chemical engineers not in general but for the main branches of the industry. There are oil, machine-building and machine-tool, power, textile, steel, non-ferrous metals institutes; in the sphere of agricultural training, there are, in addition to the agricultural academies and institutes, which have various faculties, institutes providing specialized training in silk cultivation, cotton cultivation, irrigation, mechanization of agriculture, and pisciculture. For the preparation of workers in culture there are universities, pedagogical institutes, institutes of foreign languages, library institutes, physical culture, theatrical, cinema and other institutes. In their turn the institutes are divided into various faculties. The textile institute, for instance, has spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, chemical-technological, economic engineering, art, and mechanical faculties.
Before the October Revolution Moscow University had four faculties: history-philology, physics-mathematics, law and medicine. Now the University has 12 faculties: history, philology, journalism, philosophy, economy, law, geography, mechanics-mathematics, physics, biology-soil, chemistry and geology. The country now has institutes offering training in professions that were non-existent in pre-revolutionary Russia. These include aviation, oil, non-ferrous, metals, power, food industry, cinema, library, and other institutes; faculties: pediatrics (in medical institutes), railway electrification (in the Railway Transport Institute), and others.
While pre-revolutionary Russia had higher technical schools in only seven cities, the U.S.S.R. by 1950 had such establishments in more than 70 cities. The training of engineers for the iron and steel industry is conducted in 18 institutes and faculties instead of the six institutions of higher learning in tsarist Russia. Iron and steel institutes have been opened in Siberia, the Donbas, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and other metallurgical districts of the U.S.S.R. A similar change has taken place in the number of higher technical schools preparing mining engineers: the number has reached 32 in place of the four in old Russia. More than 50 institutes and faculties are training mechanical engineers for various branches of machine-building. Machine-building higher technical schools have been opened in Stalingrad, Barnaul, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Zaporozhye, Bezhitsa, Tula, Rostov-on-Don, and in other cities, where a machine-building industry has been created.
Institutions of higher learning in the U.S.S.R. are divided into two main types: universities and institutes.
Some special institutions of higher learning are called academies; for example, the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy in Moscow, the Lithuanian Agricultural Academy, the Latvian Agricultural Academy, the Leningrad Forestry Technical Academy. Some are called higher schools, for example the long-established Moscow Higher Technical School, the Leningrad Higher Seafaring School, the Odessa Higher Nautical School and others. Higher music educational establishments are called conservatories.
The universities train scientific workers in the main theoretical subjects for research institutes, and teachers for the secondary schools. The university course is five years. By 1953 the U.S.S.R. had 33 universities.
Every Union Republic has its own universities. The R.S.F.S.R. has 11 universities, the Ukraine – seven, Uzbekistan – two, and the other Union Republics each have one university.
The oldest universities are Moscow University (founded in 1755), Tartu University in Soviet Estonia (founded in 1802), and Kharkov and Kazan universities (founded in 1804); the newest universities founded already after the Great Patriotic War are the Uzhgorod (Transcarpathian Region, the Ukraine), Moldavian, Turkmen, Kirghiz, Uzbek, and Tajik universities.
Moscow Lomonosov University occupies a prominent place among the universities in the U.S.S.R. because of its historic past, the role it played in furthering the country’s cultural development, and its large number of faculties, students and highly qualified teachers. A spacious many-storeyed building, occupying an area of 790 acres, was built and placed at the University’s disposal in 1953. This new 32-storeyed building contains 148 lecture halls, more than 1,000 scientific-study laboratories, and a library for 1,200,000 volumes.
The University’s laboratories and study rooms are equipped with the latest scientific equipment that meet the modern requirements of science for study and scientific research in mechanics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, etc.
A botanical garden with corresponding structures has been laid out at the University over an area of 104 acres; there are cultural, living and sports buildings, a hostel for students (5,754 rooms), and flats for the teaching staff.
This majestic edifice once again vividly demonstrates the great concern of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government to develop science and to train the raising generation of builders of communism. More than 17,000 students (including correspondence students), representing 57 nationalities, studied at Moscow University in 1953.
Universities usually have five or six faculties: physics-mathematics, language and literature (or philology) history, geography, biology and chemistry.
Some universities have faculties of philosophy, law, Oriental, geology-soil and others.
The different institutes – industrial, transport, building, communications, agricultural, economic, pedagogical, medical, architectural, theatrical, cinema and others – train experts for practical work and scientific cadres in the corresponding branches. Institutes training experts for the key branches of industry, agriculture, and culture go in for still greater specialization.
The institutes, too, are divided into faculties (and sections) which vary from three to eight. The Leningrad Industrial Institute, for example, has the following faculties: metallurgical, mechanical, electrical-mechanical, electrical, machine-building, hydro-technical, physical engineering, and economic engineering.
The student body in the big institutes is between 5,000 and 6,000. The course is from four to six years, depending on the type of institute.
In 1953 there were more than 900 institutions of higher learning with an aggregate student body of over 1,500,000.
The head of university is the rector, of the institute – the director. The curriculum and scientific department is headed by their assistants (the pro-rector) in the university, and the assistant director in the institute).
Every institution of higher learning has its council (called the Academic Council) which is headed by the rector (director). The council is made up of the pro-rector (assistant director), the head of the administrative department, deans of faculties, heads of chairs, a number of professors, the chief librarian, and representatives of the institution’s public organizations. The council may also include representatives of the enterprises and establishments corresponding to the institution’s type. We thus see that the council of an institution of higher learning is built up on democratic principles.
People of both sexes (up to the age of 35), who have finished a secondary general educational school or a technical, pedagogical, medical or other vocational school, can enter an institution of higher learning.
Students are accepted on the basis of examinations. Irrespective of the type of institution of higher learning he intends entering, the examinee must pass the examinations in the Russian language and literature. The other two or three examinations depend on the type of institution of the higher learning and the faculty. For instance, prospective students intending to enter higher technical establishments have to take the examinations in mathematics, physics, and chemistry; those entering faculties of history, geography, law, and library, have to take the examinations in the history of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and in geography. The examinations are based on the curriculum of the secondary school.
People entering institutions of higher learning, where studies are conducted in a non-Russian language, have to take the examination in the language of the institution.
Pupils finishing secondary school with a gold or silver medal are exempted from the entrance examinations.
The curriculum includes the following courses: social and political, general scientific (general theoretic), and special. Higher technical establishments have, in addition, a general engineering course. The correlation between these courses varies in different institutions of higher learning and faculties. For instance, at faculties of experimental sciences in universities, the approximate correlation is:
|Social and political course
||About 6 per cent|
||,, 27 ,, ,,|
||,, 67 ,, ,,|
In higher technical establishments:
|Social and economic
||,, 7 ,, ,,|
||,, 30 ,, ,,|
||,, 35 ,, ,,|
||,, 28 ,, ,,|
In all institutions of higher learning the students study the foundations of Marxism-Leninism as part of the social and political course, and in the majority of institutions this includes political economy.
Much time is devoted to practical work. In higher technical establishments this takes up from 16 to 38 weeks of the entire course, in higher agricultural establishments – 40 to 52 weeks, in higher pedagogical establishments – an average of 12 weeks, in higher medical establishments – 16 weeks, and in universities – from six to 16 weeks depending on the faculty.
The principal methods and forms of study in institutions of higher learning are: lectures, exercises, and seminars, designing and written work, laboratory work, study and practical work, graduation thesis.
In the first years of the study time is given to lectures, and in the subsequent years the main forms of study are exercises, seminars, laboratory and practical work, etc.
A considerable number of subjects was introduced in recent years, with the aim of giving the student supplementary knowledge and providing him with greater specialization.
The academic year starts on September 1 and is divided into two terms: the first term lasts till January 25, and the second lasts from February 7 to July 1.
As has already been mentioned, much time is devoted to practical work, which in higher technical establishments in conducted at leading industrial enterprises, and in agricultural institutes and academies – at state and collective farms. Students of pedagogical institutes do their practical work in schools, of medical institutes – in clinics and hospitals; students of geographical faculties go on geographical expeditions, and so on.
Students are passed from one course to another on the basis of examinations. Many students share in the activity of scientific circles where they become accustomed to scientific work. Some institutions of higher learning have students’ scientific societies that unite the activity of scientific circles.
Competitions for the best scientific work by students and student conferences help to draw them into scientific work. In the past decade Moscow University has published about 30 volumes of selected scientific works by students.
After completing all the work and taking all the examinations required by the curriculum, senior-year students sit for the final (state) examination (in four or five main subjects) or (in higher technical establishments) submit their graduation design. At universities, the students submit graduation theses in addition to sitting for the state examinations. The state exanimations are conducted by a State Examination Commission, which also examines gradation designs and theses.
One of the main tasks of the Soviet higher school is the ideological and political training of students and teachers on the basis of the teaching of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin.
The primary role in the fulfilment of this task lies with the Chairs of Marxism-Leninism, that provide the students with a knowledge of Marxist-Leninist theory and the ability to apply it in scientific-theoretical and practical work.
The course in “The Foundations of Marxism-Leninism,” which is taught in all institutions of higher learning, is supplemented with theoretical conferences for the study of the works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism, and with circles on current politics, reports and lectures on political themes.
The Communist Party, the Y.C.L. and the trade union organizations at each institution of higher learning play a tremendous role in the ideological and political education of students. They help students to make better progress, maintain discipline, draw them into social work and cultivate in them initiative, a sense of civic duty and love for their profession.
Cultural-educational work is conducted at all institutions of higher learning to meet the varied interests of the students. This includes lectures, socials, concerts, films, and meetings with scientists and writers. Circles on various branches of science, as well as physical culture and sports circles, are very active. Many of the institutions of higher learning have their choirs and orchestras, recreation clubs; they also publish newspapers and scientific magazines.
Soviet students and youths share actively in the work of international democratic organizations that defend the interests of the rising generation of all nationalities and races – the World Democratic Youth Federation (whose membership is made up of 83,000,000 young people from 90 countries) and the International Students’ Union. The Soviet youth is marching in the van of the struggle for world co-operation and friendship among the nations, for the happiness and bright future of young people the world over.
All students who succeed in their studies, irrespective of the character of the institution of higher learning, receive a state stipend which is increased as they pass from one course to another. Many institutions of higher learning have special stipends named after prominent statesmen, writers, scientists, and so on.
Students from other towns and rural localities are provided with accommodation in hostels. Some of the big institutions of higher learning have their own rest homes (in the Crimea and the Caucasus, for example) which are open to the teaching staff and the students.
Many institutions of higher learning in the U.S.S.R. have evening and correspondence courses for factory and office workers, who wish to further their education.
The evening courses are attended by persons working in the town (or its suburbs), where the institution of higher learning is located. Studies are conducted according to a special study plan and curriculum inasmuch as the course is drawn out up to six years.
Some institutions of higher learning have correspondence courses for people working far out of town. These courses cater to a considerable number of students, sometimes as many as several thousand. To enter the correspondence course students must satisfy the usual requirements, have a secondary-school education, but there were no age limitations.
There are a number of independent correspondence institutes, such as the all-Union and Leningrad correspondence industrial institutes, the Moscow Correspondence Institute of the Mental-Working Industry, the Moscow Correspondence Institute of Communications Engineers, the Moscow Correspondence Pedagogical Institute, and others.
Correspondence-course students independently study the course of the faculty they enter. They do written assignments and twice a year come to town to attend lectures, to do laboratory work and to sit for the examinations. The enterprises and establishments where correspondence-course students work, provide them with leave to make these trips. On completing the full course, they take the regular state examinations, or submit their graduation theses, and the same status is granted to them as to graduates of the usual institutions of higher learning.
The development of correspondence-course higher education in the Soviet Union may be seen from the following figures:
In 1953 the system of correspondence course higher education consisted of 20 correspondence institutions of higher learning and 386 correspondence courses at the regular institutes and universities, which had approximately 500,000 students, or about a third of the higher schools’ student body.
Taking into account the increasing aspiration of the adult population to raise the level of its education, the Soviet Government is ensuring the further development of correspondence higher and secondary vocational establishments, as well as of general educational schools serving working people engaged in production.
Soviet institutions of higher education also carry on extensive scientific-research work. Special mention should be made of Soviet universities as centres of scientific-research work, for which reason many scientific-research institutes have been organized at the universities.
Moscow University is successfully advancing the work of a number of scientific schools in various spheres of science founded before the October Socialist Revolution by prominent Russian scientists – professors of this University – such as K.A. Timiryazev, N.E. Zhukovsky, the father of Russian aviation, A.P. Pavlov, N.M. Kulagin, V.I. Vernadsky, N.D. Zelinsky, and others. Note must be made of the world-famous school of mathematics of Moscow University; the Moscow school of aerodynamics initiated by N.E. Zhukovsky and continued by Academician S.A. Chaplygin; the great achievements in the sphere of comet astronomy (S.V. Orlov, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.); the famous Moscow school of chemistry, that was headed by Academician N.D. Zelinsky (Academicians A.N. Nesmeyanov, S.S. Namyotkin, and others); the Moscow school of anthropology, and others.
At Leningrad University Academician D.S. Rozhdestvensky, who founded a new school of physico-optics, is conducting fruitful research work in this field. The school of organic chemistry, founded by Academician A.E. Favorsky, is continuing its work here. Academicians A.A. Grigoryev and L.S. Berg created an original scientific school of Soviet geographers. The professors of the University have achieved great successes in the sphere of Oriental studies. (Academician V.M. Alexeyev, Sinologist, Academician I.Y. Krachkovsky, Arabist, Academician A. P. Barannikov, Indologist, and others).
Extensive scientific work is being conducted in the field of philology and the history of the Russian and Slavonic languages (Academicians V.V. Vinogradov, S.P. Obnorsky, L.V. Shcherba, and others). J.V. Stalin’s works on linguistics greatly influenced scientific research in this sphere.
In Kiev University Academician A.P. Palladin established a scientific school of biochemistry (biochemistry of the muscular activity, etc.). At this same University Academician D.V. Gravve laid the foundations of a school of algebra; his work was continued by N.T. Chebotaryov, Professor at Kazan University and corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., who made Kazan University one of the world’s most important centres for the study of the higher algebra. Academician O.Y. Schmidt, who created his interesting theory on cosmogony when he was already working in Moscow, began his outstanding scientific researches in mathematics at Kiev University.
Kharkov University is where Academicians S.N. Bernstein (the theory of the approximation of functions by polynom) and D.M. Sintsov (problems of differential geometry), outstanding mathematicians, work. Here, too, Professor N.D. Borisyak is making an extensive study of the geology of the south of the U.S.S.R.
Research in biology has received especial impetus at Molotov University – Academician A.A. Zavarzin (the study of the tissues of invertebrates and vertebrates), Academician A.A. Rikhter (the physiology of plants), and others.
In the sphere of biology, Soviet scientists exposed the reactionary theory of Weismann-Morgan at the 1948 session of the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and proved the tremendous importance that the teaching of I.V. Michurin, the great remaker of nature, has for the creation of advanced materialist biology. The discussion of problems of the physiological teaching of Academician I.P. Pavlov, the brilliant Russian physiologist, at the joint scientific session of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the U.S.S.R. in 1950, was of considerable importance in the sphere of physiology. These sessions mapped out the correct materialist line to be pursued in scientific research and in teaching biological subjects in universities, and pedagogical, agricultural, and medical institutes.
At the young Tbilisi University, founded in Soviet times, there is a strong group of prominent scientists working in many spheres of science: Academician I.A. Javakhishvili heads the University’s extensive work in archaeology. He and his school demonstrated the high cultural level of ancient Georgia; Academician S.N. Janashia wrote the history of Georgia; Professors A.G. Shanidze and G.S. Akhvlediani have achieved great results in the study of Caucasian lore. Academician N.I. Muskhelishvili and his numerous pupils are working on the theory of elasticity.
At the Byelorussian University Academicians V.N. Pertsov and N.M. Nikolsky did substantial research work in general history (ancient East, Rome, medieval history, and the history of the Western Slavs and Baltic peoples).
Academician V.I. Romanovsky of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences, whose works in mathematical statistics are world famous, is on the staff of the Central Asian University in Tashkent.
I have enumerated, and very incompletely at that, the principal trends and achievements of the scientific-research work of only a few Soviet universities. Scientific-research work on a similarly big scale is being conducted at many higher technical establishments. Outstanding in this field are the Moscow Higher Technical School, the Leningrad and Moscow Mining Institutes, the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, and many others. A characteristic feature of this scientific research is its close connection with the practical work in socialist construction, the elaboration for industrial enterprises of new designs, new technological process methods, the discovery of new deposits of minerals, and the working out of a new technology of metallurgical processes. For example, a group of professors of Leningrad University headed by Professors N.P. Aseyev and K.F. Beloglazov helped through their scientific work to found the nickel industry in the U.S.S.R.; Professor I.M. Besprozvanny of the Moscow Higher Technical School worked out a new method of cutting metals which is today widely used in our metal-working industry.
Extensive scientific-research work in the sphere of agriculture is being conducted by the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy and a number of other agricultural academies and institutes.
Medical institutes of the U.S.S.R. contributed greatly to various branches of medical science: surgery (Academicsians N.N. Burdenko and S.I. Spasokukotsky, Professors N.I. Grashchenkov, N.A. Bogoraz, and others), pathological physiology (Academician A.A. Bogomolets), ophthalmology (Professor V.P. Filatov), and in the others fields.
One of the tasks of the Soviet institutions of higher learning is to popularize scientific and technical knowledge among the people. Soviet institutions of higher learning are centres of advanced science which does not fence itself off or hold itself aloof from the people. Professors read lectures and papers at factories and plants, in Soviet Army units, in schools, and in workers’ recreation clubs. Many institutions of higher learning have opened lecture halls, where different lectures as well as cycles of lectures on one subject are read to the public.
Many professors of institutions of higher learning compiled and are compiling text-books for secondary schools, wrote and are writing popular books and pamphlets dealing with various branches of science, and are contributing articles to magazines.
Professors and docents are sharing actively in the work of the Society for the Dissemination of Political and Scientific Knowledge which was set up in 1947. This society annually organizes hundreds of thousands of lectures throughout the U.S.S.R., which are attended by millions of people.
The rapid extension of the network of general educational schools in the U.S.S.R. necessitated training teachers in greater numbers. Today the Soviet Union has the following types of pedagogical establishments training teachers for schools of various grades:
Elementary-school teachers are trained in pedagogical schools with a four-year course of study. These enrol people of both sexes with a middle-school education. Some of these schools – pre-school pedagogical schools – aim to train teachers for kindergartens.
In addition to providing their students with a secondary education these schools devote much time to the study of pedagogical subjects: psychology, pedagogics (pre-school pedagogics for teachers in pre-school establishments), history of pedagogics, method of teaching in elementary schools and pedagogical practice in elementary schools, general acquaintanceship with the school, test lessons, practical work in child upbringing). Graduates are given the title of elementary school or kindergarten teacher.
Students finishing the pedagogical school with honours can immediately enter an institution of higher learning. The others may do so on the basis of the usual entrance examinations after having worked three years in their profession.
Teachers for the 5th-7th grades are trained by two-year teachers’ institutes. These are organized along the lines of secondary general educational schools and furnish a supplementary specialized education (physics-mathematics, language and literature, natural science, and so on) and pedagogical training. Teachers’ institutes enrol people of both sexes with a secondary education.
These institutes exist separately or form part of pedagogical institutes, and have several faculties such as physics-mathematics, natural science, geography, language and literature, and history.
The pedagogical course includes psychology, pedagogics (including the history of pedagogics), and the method of teaching the subject in question. Much time is devoted to pedagogical practice in schools (in the 5th-7th grades).
The training of teachers for the senior secondary-school grades is concentrated in the four-year pedagogical institutes. Many of these institutes train teachers for non-Russian secondary schools. Every republic (Union as well as Autonomous) have one or several pedagogical institutes where studies are conducted in the native and Russian languages.
Pedagogical institutes have the following faculties: language and literature, history, geography, natural science, and physics-mathematics. Some institutes have faculties of foreign languages, pedagogy (training teachers of pedagogy for pedagogical schools and teachers in pre-school education), art and graphics (training teachers of drawing and mechanical drawing for secondary schools), and others. In addition there are a number of pedagogical institutes of foreign languages with English, French and German faculties.
Teachers for the senior grades in the secondary school are also trained in universities, where, in addition to specialized training, some faculties provide instruction in psychology, pedagogics, and methodology.
The category of institutions of higher pedagogical learning includes institutes of physical culture (that train teachers of physical culture for the secondary schools), also special institutions of higher pedagogical learning like library institutes, music-pedagogical institutes, and so on.
Pedagogical institutes like the State Lenin Pedagogical Institute in Moscow, the State Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad, the Potemkin Moscow City Institute, and others, have teaching staffs of up to 200-250 professors and docents, student bodies of 3,000 to 5,000, and splendidly equipped study rooms, laboratories, etc. There are big pedagogical institutes in Gorky, Kharkov, Kiev, and in other large cities.
Besides the specialized training offered by the different faculties, all students of pedagogical institutes take a course in Marxism-Leninism, a foreign language and pedagogical sciences – psychology, pedagogics, the history of pedagogics, school hygiene, and the methodology of teaching the subjects of their speciality in the secondary school.
Practical work is conducted directly at the secondary schools. Here the students are acquainted with the organization of the school, and conduct test lessons and educational work.
An interest and love for pedagogical activity is developed in pedagogical institutes not only by the proper organization of theoretical studies, but by other measures, too: students’ circles, socials dedicated to the memory of outstanding Russian pedagogues, meetings with prominent pedagogues of the country, exhibitions of pedagogical literature, etc.
Pedagogical training is receiving unflagging attention in the Soviet Union. To ensure teachers for the many new schools earmarked for construction by the fifth five-year plan, it is intended in the course of 1951-55 to bring enrolment in pedagogical institutes up by 45 per cent compared with 1946-50, while in some Union Republics this percentage will be considerably higher; for example, Lithuania and Latvia will have 130 and 90 per cent more teachers respectively.
The U.S.S.R. has a large network of evening and correspondence-course departments at teachers’ and pedagogical institutes to give teachers an opportunity to advance in their profession without interrupting regular pedagogical work. These correspondence courses at pedagogical institutes have a considerable enrolment, the total student body numbering more than 150,000 persons.
Many cities have post-graduate institutes for teachers where the latter can take a refreshers course in their speciality, further their general educational and pedagogical knowledge and receive methodological assistance. These institutes provide series of lectures on important questions of teaching and training, and organize seminars on pedagogical and methodological subjects.
Conference courses are also organized for teachers, and a
substantial role in helping teachers to advance in their profession is
played by methodological centres, which have been set up in many cities.
In pre-revolutionary Russia there were pedagogue-theoreticians and great thinkers in pedagogics who created interesting pedagogical systems. Thus, already in the first half of the nineteenth century, V.G. Belinsky and A.I. Herzen established the foremost pedagogical trend of their day – the pedagogics of Russian revolutionary democracy of the nineteenth century. The work that Belinsky and Herzen started in pedagogics was constituted in the second half of the nineteenth century by N.G. Chernyshevsky and N.A. Dobrolyubov.
In the 1860’s-1870’s such great Russian pedagogues as K.D. Ushinsky, N.I. Pirogov, L.N. Tolstoy, and many others came to the fore in the field of methodology of elementary education and teaching the Russian language, literature, mathematics, natural science, and other subjects in the secondary school. At the close of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century Professor P.F. Lesgaft, the well-known Russian scientist, elaborated in his capital works systems of family upbringing and physical training.
The tsarist government, however, hindered the development of pedagogical science and persecuted prominent representatives of Russian advanced pedagogical thought, although pre-revolutionary Russia had several institutions of higher pedagogical learning, she did not have a single establishment conducting scientific research in pedagogics.
The attitude taken up by the Soviet Government to the development of pedagogical science was completely different.
The generous financing of scientific research in pedagogics, the organization of pedagogical and scientific-pedagogical conferences, the establishment of a number of scientific-research pedagogical institutes, and a board network of institutions of higher pedagogical learning, the publication of pedagogical magazines, and, finally, the setting up at the end of 1943 of a higher institution of scientific research – the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R. – have created exceptionally favourable conditions for the development of pedagogical sciences in the U.S.S.R.
The teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin and, particularly, their works on culture and education comprise the methodological foundation of Soviet pedagogical science.
V.I. Lenin and J.V. Stalin formulated the purpose and aims of communist education, defined the essence of communist morality and gave valuable instructions how it should be cultivated; they sharply criticized the old school, but it the same time cautioned against utterly repudiating the entire experience of that school and pointed out the necessity of utilizing everything valuable that it contained. In a number of speeches and articles they gave guiding pointers on mastering systematic general educational knowledge, on the significance of advanced science, the interrelation between theory and practice, the liquidation of the breach between mental and physical labour, and on polytechnical education. They stressed the importance of the teacher, his leading role in educational work and the necessity of raising his prestige.
The importance of the teacher in educating and training the rising generation was noted in a number of decisions adopted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party on the school, on the programmes and regime in the elementary and secondary schools, etc.
J.V. Stalin’s works on linguistics were exceedingly important for the elaboration of general pedagogical problems and methods of teaching a language. In them he defined the role of a language in the social life of people, the role of its vocabulary and, particularly, of its basic stock of words, and the importance of its grammatical structure.
Scientific elaboration of pedagogical questions (particularly questions of ideological and political, moral, esthetical training) was greatly facilitated by the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party on ideological questions published in 1946 and 1948 (on literature, the theatre, cinema, music).
The scientific session (1948) of the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences discussed the situation in biology and furnished rich material for the reorganization on the basis of the materialist Michurinist biology of the courses in botany, zoology and the foundations of Darwinism; in 1949-50 the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences drew up new programmes and compiled new text-books for these subjects.
The joint session in 1950 of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the U.S.S.R., dedicated to the scientific heritage of Academician I.P. Pavlov, mapped out the lines along which new programmes should be drawn up and text-books compiled for courses in the anatomy and the physiology of man on the basis of this teaching. The application of Pavlov’s teaching is reflected also in the elaboration of problems of pedagogics and psychology.
N.K. Krupskaya and A.S. Makarenko made valuable contributions to Soviet pedagogics. Before the Revolution, Krupskaya worked out a new system of pre-school education. She improved and developed this system in Soviet times, and in her works on the upbringing of children of pre-school age she paid particular attention to the problem of education through work, training collectivism, will-power and character, Soviet patriotism, and socialist humanism.
Her Letters to Young Pioneers and her numerous articles were a valuable subscription to the content and methodology of the educational work of the Young Pioneer Organization. She made a great contribution to the theory of cultural-educational work among adults (political education), and especially to the field of Soviet library science.
Besides being a talented practical worker in pedagogics, A.S. Makarenko was a profound theoretician in this sphere.
In his books, articles, and lectures on the upbringing of children (later published in a separate book) he formulated an interesting method of training communist morality, which he experimentally tested over 16 years of pedagogical work.
As I have already mentioned in an earlier chapter, Makarenko based his pedagogical system on education in a collective, education through work, training discipline, a sense of duty and dignity, and inculcating a selfless love for the socialist Motherland.
In a number of articles on philosophical and pedagogical questions, Makarenko showed how to apply the methodology of dialectical materialism to solve pedagogical problems. He was an active opponent of bourgeois pedagogics and its pseudo-science – pedology.
Immediately after the October Revolution, S.T. Shatsky, another outstanding educator, established experimental schools and educational institutions in Kaluga Province and in Moscow. These institutions did some remarkable work in pedagogics. They detailed questions of the development in children of initiative and a striving for creative work, of education through work (linking up education with agricultural production), and considerably advanced the questions of training children in art. Shatsky was the teacher and guide of a host of Soviet pedagogues.
A number of Soviet scientific-research pedagogical institutes have been opened since 1918. These establishments conduct comprehensive research into the theory and history of pedagogics, methods of teaching, and extra-school work.
Pedagogical science is making steady headway under the guidance of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R., which was established by decision of the Soviet Government on October 6, 1943, when the Great Patriotic War was at its height. The Academy is today the country’s leading scientific institution in the sphere of pedagogics and unites prominent scientists working in that sphere.
The principal aim of the Academy is to promote public education in the country and to disseminate pedagogical knowledge among the people; scientifically to work out questions of general and special pedagogics and psychology, methods of teaching the main subjects in elementary and secondary schools; to promote scientific research in pedagogics; to train scientific-pedagogical workers for institutions of higher learning and scientific-research institutes.
The Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R. has the following scientific-research institutes: theory and history of pedagogics, methods of school training, psychology, defectology, school hygiene and physical training, national schools, art training, pedagogics (Leningrad), and the Lesgaft Natural-Scientific Institute in Leningrad.
Other institutions within the framework of the Academy are:
a) The Ushinsky State Public Education Library with about 600,000
books, including some 60,000 volumes of pedagogical literature in
b) The Public Education Museum in Leningrad, which collects and exhibits material on pedagogics and the activities of schools, institutions of higher learning, and educational establishments.
c) The Scientific Archive where the archives of all scientific-research pedagogical establishments are collected, as well as the private archives of well-known pedagogues (N.V. Chekhov, V.P. Vakhterov, V.I. Charnolusky, and others) containing material characterizing the development of pedagogical sciences in the U.S.S.R.
d) The Toy Museum in Zagorsk.
The Academy carries on extensive work in spreading pedagogical knowledge: publishes books and pamphlets, organizes lectures, and annual “Pedagogical Readings” at which teachers read their papers. The best papers are awarded prizes and published in the Academy’s periodicals. Teachers and other workers in public education throughout the Soviet Union submitted 2,136 papers for the “Pedagogical Readings” in 1952.
The Academy’s periodicals are Soviet Pedagogics and Family and School; it also publishes the Transactions of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R., which prints papers on the scientific-research work of the Academy.
In 1951 the Academy had 34 members and 59 corresponding members.
Even of the best teachers of the R.S.F.S.R. were recently elected members of the Academy side by side with prominent scientific workers. They won this recognition by their splendid work in school and by their ability to generalize their experience scientifically.
Other Union Republics (the Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, etc.) also have their scientific-research pedagogical institutes.
Scientific-research institutes, especially those set up by the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, and chairs of pedagogics at pedagogical institutes have published a number of scientific treatises on pedagogical subjects.
A science of pedagogics has been created on the basis of dialectical materialism; it embraces in smooth consecutiveness all the major questions of education and training. Text-books and pedagogical manuals have been published; Professors I.A. Kairov, P.N. Grusdev and S.H. Chavdarov (in the Ukrainian language) edited different text-books for pedagogical institutes; for teachers’ institutes there are text-books by Professor I.T. Ogorodnikov and P.N. Shimbirev; B.P. Yesipov and N.K. Goncharov compiled text-books for pedagogicals schools.
A system, differing from that which had existed in pre-revolutionary times, has been formulated in the sphere of the history of pedagogics. A number of fundamental works have been publishes on the subject, outstanding among which are Professor G.E. Zhurakovsky’s Essays on the History of Antique Pedagogics, Professor N.A. Konstantinov’s School Policy in Colonial Countries, Professor Y.N. Medinsky’s General History of Pedagogics, History of Russian Pedagogics, and a text-book on the history of pedagogics.
Soviet historians of pedagogics are paying great attention to the rich scientific heritage of great Russian thinkers and pedagogues – V.G. Belinsky, N.G. Chernyshevsky, N.A. Dobrolyubov, D.I. Pisarev, K.D. Ushinsky, N.I. Pirogov, L.N. Tolstoy, P.F. Lesgaft, N.K. Krupskaya, A.S. Makarenko, M.I. Kalinin, and others. The works of these pedagogues have been published with introductions, and have been the subject of numerous articles and several monographs.
The history of the Soviet school is dealt with in a number of books, many articles, and in several theses.
A great achievement of the Soviet history of pedagogics is a number of researches dealing with the advanced pedagogical thought and school of the non-Russian peoples of the U.S.S.R.
Noteworthy in the field of psychology are the works of Professors K.N. Kornilov (text-books, etc.) and B.M. Teplov (text-book and a valuable research Psychology of Aptitude for Music). The psychology of attention has been treated by Professor N.F. Dobrynin, the psychology of memory – by Professors A.N. Leontyev and L.V. Zankov. Problems of the history of Russian psychological thought are being elaborated and research is being conducted into psychologic 1 problem in the light of the teachings of Academician I.P. Pavlov.
Many treatises have been published on didactics (the theory of teaching). These deal with the principles of didactics, particularly with the principle of the use of visual methods, the question of polytechnical education, the lesson, and other questions. B.P. Yesipov is a prominent figure among Soviet didacticians.
Problems of educational work in the elementary school are elucidated in a voluminous work entitled Elementary School (A Teacher’s Reference Book), compiled by workers at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the R.S.F.S.R. and edited by Professor M.A. Melnikov.
The question of upbringing in the family is receiving great attention. The initiative in raising the question of the role and responsibility of the family in the upbringing of children belongs to A.S. Makarenko’s A Book for Parents, published in 1937.
In the sphere of pre-school education Soviet science has created its own, Soviet system which is based on the experience of children’s establishments and the study of the peculiarities in the development of children of pre-school age. Text-books on pre-school pedagogics for pedagogical institutes have been published.
The extensive experimental work conducted in defectology contributed valuable material to this branch of pedagogical science. Prominent among Soviet defectologists are corresponding members of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences Professors D.I. Azbukin (general questions of defectology and oligophreno-pedagogics), F.A. Rau (surdopedagogics), and L.V. Zankov (pathopsychology).
Comprehensive scientific work has been conducted by Soviet scientists on methods of teaching various subjects in the Soviet school. Many Soviet Methodists have compiled splendid text-books and manuals on methods of teaching all subjects.
Cultural-educational establishments play an important role in the public educational system of the U.S.S.R. In pre-revolutionary Russia this branch of education was poorly developed. The tsarist government and its local organs often withheld permission to open cultural-educational establishments and those that did function were under oppressive police surveillance and their activity was restricted in every way. Persons conducting cultural-educational activity among the working people were, as a rule, persecuted.
After the Great October Socialist Revolution, however, this work began to proceed on a big scale along principally different lines. Immediately after the establishment of Soviet power the working people throughout the country began setting up workers’ recreation clubs, rural reading-rooms, and libraries.
The Soviet Government allocated big sums of money for cultural-educational work and supplied educational establishments with books and various equipment. The trade unions launched upon extensive educational work, opening tens of thousands of workers’ recreation clubs and libraries at enterprises.
In the Soviet Union cultural-educational work is characterized by its wide scope and by its variety of forms. It is carried on by different types of libraries, recreation clubs, rural reading-rooms, club rooms, palaces of culture, museums and exhibitions, propaganda trains, self-education circles, etc.
All cultural-educational work is aimed at giving the people a communist education, enlightening the broad masses, and equipping them with the advanced scientific knowledge needed for the building of communism.
The library, which is free, is the most wide-spread type of cultural-educational establishment. Libraries are opened by organs of the state, by industrial and economic enterprises, and by public organizations.
All libraries in the U.S.S.R. may be divided into the following types:
State public libraries, are big libraries of all-Union and republican importance; as public libraries they serve all citizens and usually have from one to several million books and magazines covering scientific and popular-scientific literature and fiction. As a rule, publishing houses send them a copy of every book they publish.
Scientific libraries, which include:
a) State central libraries of various branches of science, for
example, the State Historical Library, the Polytechnical Library, the
Central Medical Library, the Ushinsky State Public Education Library,
etc. These are big libraries which concentrate on books and magazines
on separate branches of science and meet the requirements of scientific
workers and other readers engaged in a special branch of knowledge.
b) Libraries belonging to academies and other scientific-research institutions, museums, institutions of higher learning, etc.
General libraries, that contain literature on all branches of knowledge, and fiction; these are public libraries (regional, city, district and rural) serving readers in their various districts. Many of them have itinerant departments.
In addition to these state-operated libraries, there is a thick network of general libraries supervised and financed by the trade unions. These libraries are usually located in workers’ recreation clubs or at enterprises and serve the entire personnel of these enterprises.
Libraries belonging to different establishments, serving the personnel of these establishments.
Children’s libraries – these are general libraries, too, but their selection of books is for children of various ages; they serve readers in their various districts.
School libraries with a selection of juvenile literature and serving school children.
In 1953 there were more than 380,000 libraries of all types (including 285,000 rural libraries) with over one billion volumes.
All the Union Republics have their state public libraries and these are important seats of enlightenment and culture. As an example here are some data on three of the country’s biggest public libraries.
The Lenin State Library in Moscow (the former Rumyantsev Museum) was founded in 1862. With the new buildings that have been built for it, it is today the biggest library in the world.
The expansion of the Lenin Library after the October Revolution is shown in the table below:
|Number of books, journals, newspaper (annual) files (in thousands)
|Attendance at reading-rooms (in thousands of persons)
|Number of books handed out (in thousands)
The M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin State Library in Leningrad, founded in 1795 and opened to the public in 1814, grew at a similarly rapid rate. By 1914 this library had 3,016,635 books and other publications, but during the years of Soviet power this figure increased threefold. The number of readers increased from 21,000 in 1916 to 87,000 in 1952.
The third biggest state public library is the V.G. Korolenko Library in Kharkov. It was established in the second half of the nineteenth century on public initiative. This library had 2,000,000 books in 1949 against the 177,000 books it had in 1917.
The expansion of libraries in comparison with pre-revolutionary times is characterized not only by the statistics given above that show their tremendous quantitative growth, but also by the content of their work.
In addition to lending books to subscribers, all state public, scientific and regional libraries have an inter-library loan system and they send books to other cities and to rural localities. These libraries conduct extensive bibliographical work, compile bibliographical registers, organize thematical exhibitions of books, and so on.
General libraries actively recommend books to their readers by publishing lists and posters, by holding book exhibitions, readings, and by conducting other similar work among readers. Circles life Friends of the Library, Readers’, and others have become very popular. The general libraries organize self-education circles, and question-and-answer sessions. District, town and village libraries have itinerant sections that are sent out to places where there are no permanent libraries.
The rapid increase in the number of libraries and librarians and the improvement in library service required the services of librarians with a sound theoretical and practical training. For this purpose library institutes were organized in Moscow, Leningrad and Kharkov. These institutes, which offer a four year study course, train qualified librarians and bibliographers for work in scientific and large public libraries.
A network of library technical schools with a three-year course prepare librarians for general libraries.
The training of scientific workers in library science and bibliography has been organized.
Club-type institutions have become very wide-spread in the Soviet Union. These cultural-educational institutions have libraries and reading-rooms, self-education, music, dramatic, and other circles; they organize lectures, exhibitions, stage plays, organize concerts, and so on.
Institutions of this type include palaces and houses of culture, rural reading-rooms, club-houses, and others. Some clubs are important centres of culture as, for instance, houses of writers, architects, workers in art, scientists, teachers, engineers, and palaces of culture, and so on.
All big enterprises have their own clubs with large specially-designed buildings that contain several halls to seat thousands of people.
The scale of the work conducted by these institutions may be seen from the example of the Palace of Cultural of the Stalin Auto Works in Moscow. With a building specially designed for the purpose it has a theatre (1,100 seats), a concert hall, a lecture room, a ball room for 700 people, a big hall with a seating capacity of 1,200, and a host of other rooms. The palace can accommodate more than 5,000 people at a time. It has a fine library, studios, gymnasiums, and premises for educational, technical, art, and other circle work. Similarly big clubs are the Kirov Palace of Culture in Leningrad, the Kukhmisterov Club and the “Kauchuk” Plant Club in Moscow, the Machine-Building Plant Club in Tula, the Palace of Culture in Baku, and scores of clubs in other cities.
The clubs conduct mass (lectures, plays, concerts, excursions, etc.) and circle work. Here the members can acquire knowledge or show their talents in various fields. The usual circles are dramatic, educational for different professions, choral, physical culture, literary, and others.
Clubs follow the principle of promoting self-activity among members. In the evenings the clubs live a many-sided life: a concert or play is on every evening, and there is usually a meeting or a lecture; the reading-room is always full, and the different circles always function at this time. Some of the rooms are set aside for people wanting to spend the evening in quite reading or in playing a table game (draughts, chess), etc.
Furthermore, the clubs carry on an outside activity; they organize excursions to museums, and exhibitions, arrange picnics in summer and ski outings in winter, hold athletic competitions, and so on.
In rural localities (rural reading-rooms, rural and collective-farm clubs) the work is naturally conducted on a more modest scale, but it is sufficiently varied.
Altogether 128,600 club-type institutions functioned in the Soviet Union in 1950.
Recreation parks promote an activity as diverse as the clubs. Parks of this type have been laid out in cities, towns, and collective-farm villages for the purpose of utilizing natural conditions to the maximum for the recreation of the population.
The Gorky Central Recreation Park in Moscow serves as a model for the entire country. Occupying a huge territory of 733 acres on the picturesque bank of the Moscow River, it is covered with flower-beds, lawns, trees, and is a favourite place of recreation for hundreds of thousands of Moscovites. It has on its territory several theatres, cinema houses and pavilions, reading-rooms, a technical centre, sports grounds, concert and lecture halls, a shooting gallery, an aquatic centre with boats and swimming pools, and so on.
In Moscow there are also district recreation parks which, though smaller, carry on a similarly varied and interesting work; these include the Sokolniki Recreation Park, the Izmailovsky Recreation Park, and others. Many cities have parks of this type.
Museums constitute a big group of cultural-educational establishments in the U.S.S.R.
The table on p. 208 gives an idea of the types of museums and their growth in the years following the Great October Socialist Revolution.
In 1950 the century had 930 museums.
In the U.S.S.R. museums are state operated and everything they contain belongs to the people.
The Historical Museum, the Museum of the Revolution (Moscow), and other historical museums are cultural-educational and scientific-research institutions of extreme importance; their valuable exhibits and documents give a comprehensive picture of the historical past of the Soviet Land and of the development of the revolutionary movement.
(dedicated to the memory of leaders of the Revolution and outstanding
figures in art, science and literature)
|Technical and agricultural
|Art and literature
The Soviet peoples cherish the memory of their great men, collect material that tell of their lives and creative work. With few exceptions all the existing memorial museums have been organized in Soviet times. Among these mention must be made of the V.I. Lenin Museum, where with love and care exhibits have been collected characterizing the life and work of the genius of the socialist revolution – his boyhood and youth, his first steps in revolutionary work, the organization of the Communist Party, his struggle for a genuinely revolutionary Marxist outlook, his leadership of the armed uprising of 1917, and the organization of the world’s first socialist state. The V.I. Lenin Museum has branches in several cities.
In Moscow there is a museum dedicated to the memory of M.I. Kalinin. In it are shown the main stages of the revolutionary and state activity of this outstanding worker of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government, who, for 27 years, was president of the supreme organ of state power in the U.S.S.R.
Three museums are dedicated to the memory of L.N. Tolstoy. Created after the October Revolution they are: the Museum-Estate of L.N. Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana, the House-Museum in Lev Tolstoy Street and the Museum in Kropotkin Street in Moscow.
The fascist vandals sacked the Museum-Estate of L.N. Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana, the P.I. Chaikovsky Museum in Klin, the A.P. Chekhov House-Museum in Taganrog, and others, but these museums were restored after the Nazis had been driven out.
Scientific investigation of the different regions and districts of the Soviet Union led to the organization of a large number of local lore museums, a type of museum most wide-spread in the country. In many ways these museums helped to investigate local natural wealth and the manner in which it could be utilized; they shared in studying the historic past and the prospects for the development of the locality.
Of the technical museums the Polytechnical Museum in Moscow, founded in 1872, merits special attention. Many prominent men of Russian science and engineering conducted their researches and work there: P.N. Yablochkov, the inventor of the electric lamp and Professor N.E. Zhukovsky, the great scientist in the field of aviation; here Professor K.A. Timiryazev read his classical lectures on the life of plants; P.N. Lebedev and A.G. Stoletov, the famous physicists, helped to establish some of the museum’s departments.
V.I. Lenin spoke twice in the Polytechnical Museum in 1918.
Today this museum has 55 exhibition and lecture halls and cabinets, 15,000 exhibits vividly illustrating the tremendous achievements of the Soviet Union in socialist industry and agriculture; these exhibits include models of hydro-electric power plants, walking excavators, a number of exhibits graphically showing the development of electrification in the U.S.S.R., a working model of an automechanized blast-furnace, a model of a Soviet blooming mill, etc.
The museum carries on extensive work propagandizing technical and agricultural knowledge by organizing lectures, showing films, giving consultations, sending out travelling exhibitions, and so on. In 1951 the museum served more than a million persons.
The country’s great interest in art and solicitude for its development called forth a rapid increase in the number of art museums. Among these are the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the State Russian Museum in Leningrad, which has a world-famous collection of paintings by the best Russian artists, beginning with the eighteenth century; the Hermitage in Leningrad, which contains a very valuable collection of paintings by the greatest artists of the world – by Italian (Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian), Spanish (Velasquez, Zurbaràn, Murillo), French (Poussin, Chardin), Dutch (Rembrandt, Hals), and other artists. There are also the Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, and others.
Lectures occupy a prominent place in the work of propagandizing political and scientific knowledge among the people. They are delivered in palaces of culture, clubs, rural reading-rooms, recreation parks, Young Pioneer houses, at factories and enterprises, in specially organized lecture halls at institutions of higher learning, and schools, in museums, planetaria, and so on.
The aspiration of Soviet statesmen, scientists, writers, and workers in art to share their knowledge with the people led to the setting up in 1947 of a large public organization – the All-Union Society for the Dissemination of Political and Scientific Knowledge, whose charter members are the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., scientific-research establishments, and institutions of higher learning; its members include academicians, professors, writers, engineers, agronomists, teachers, and others. In 1952 the society had a membership of 300,000.
Branches of the society have been set up in all republics, territories, and regions. It has 16,000 lecture halls, of which 3,000 are at factories and enterprises and 5,000 at collective and state farms and at machine and tractor stations. By April 1, 1952 – the society’s fifth anniversary – it gave 2,614 thousand lectures that were attended by 254 million people. In the same period the society published 2,700 lectures in pamphlet form with a total edition of 114 million copies.
The vast network of libraries, clubs, museums and lecture halls in the U.S.S.R. brings culture within the reach of millions of men and women of all nationalities.
The Soviet Union’s immense success in spreading education, and the rapid cultural advance of all the peoples of the U.S.S.R. vividly testify to the invincible strength of the socialist system. The socialist state has brought culture within reach of the entire population and made all the achievements of science and technique the property of the people.
Soviet culture has become an attractive force of the greatest
international significance. The development of science and culture in
the U.S.S.R. is being watched by advanced people throughout the world
with profound attention and hope. The Soviet Union, heading the
invincible forces of peace and democracy, is an inspiring example of a
country building a genuinely people’s culture.