The country was backward. The minorities were neglected. There were some centres of scientific research, education, music and culture, but they were not open to all.
Education was mainly religious in nature and was organised by the clergy. Many minority groups had no scripts for their languages. Education was meant for the people of the upper classes.
The Czar commanded strict control over education. Students who revolted were jailed for life. Many of then left the country due to fear. Universities also were under the control of the Czar. From 1682 to 1725, under the rule of Peter the Great, there was some educational development. Hence, he is truly regarded as the father of Russian education.
He has inscribed on his private seal – “I am one of those men who are in search of knowledge and are always eager to learn.” Peter the Great in 1633 had established a board of education at Kiev and he had also established fifty such schools in which 3,000 children of churchmen were receiving education.
Some other primary, secondary and navel training schools were also established. In 1726, the Russian Academy of Sciences was founded and the university and preparatory schools affiliated to it were reorganised.
Catherine II (1729-1796) started a state educational policy. In a district, schools with two year curriculum and in a provincial town schools with five year curriculum, were established. In 1764 some special boarding schools were also opened for girls from the upper strata of society. Thus, in all, about 40 big and 255 small schools were established.
Form 1801-1825, during the rule of Alexander I, education registered good progress. He established an education ministry in 1802 and declared education free and universal. Around 1804 he established 6 universities, many provincial schools with four year curriculum and some district schools with two year curriculum and many one year rural schools.
At many places education was made free, and students were given special allowances and scholarships. About 70,000 students were receiving education in 1,400 schools. Even then the public was generally indifferent to education.
Nicholas I (1825-1855), like his predecessors, was interested in the development of education. He established special schools for children of upper classes and tried to spread women’s education also.
Strict disciplinary measures were introduced in the schools and the system of charging fees was also started. The king promulgated an order barring admission to children of farmers to universities and Gymnasia.
It was also ordered that logic should not be taught in schools as it was against the interest of the kingdom. The purpose of education was declared to make students loyal to the State, Church and King.
Some schools were established for providing technical education. Nationality, orthodoxy and autocracy were accepted as the chief basis of education. Secondary schools were declared for upper classes only. By imposing a strict discipline on universities, their academic freedom was badly curtailed.
The period of Alexander II (1855-1881) in the history of Russian education is considered as a period of educational reforms. The restrictions imposed on the universities were removed. Secondary education was reorganised.
Primary schools were opened in many States. Women education was encouraged by opening of a women s’ training school in 1863. Through the ‘Primary Schools’ Law of 1864, position, race and religion were not given any importance for admission in primary schools.
The teaching of science was encouraged and attempts were made to expand education in rural areas also. New teaching methods were introduced. A medical college was established for women. Girls’ schools were established at Petersburg and in many other prominent .cities.
But due to the death of Alexander II in 1881 there was a break in the development of education. Consequently, strict controls were again imposed on universities. This resulted in students’ strikes. Students were jailed. Many schools were closed due to students’ movements.
A feeling of opposition sprang up in the public against the Church, Parochial schools and Alphabet schools. At this time Zestov established some Zestov schools but the government encouraged its old alphabet schools. By 1902 religious education reached the peak of its development. Afterwards due to public opposition its influence began to fade.
In 1905 a revolution brokeout in Russia. Some groups organised themselves against the Czar. Between 1906 and 1907 some changes became necessary in education and the economic policy. As a result of the First World War dictatorship gained ground in Russia, Germany, France and Italy.
Consequently, democratic traditions declined. In 1917, Alexandor Derenshky established a revolutionary government by removing the imperial government. Under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky a government of Bolshevists was established and a federal government was instituted having representatives from all the races and languages in the country. The control of the Church on education was totally abolished.
The communist government was determined to remove illiteracy. It published grammars books, dictionaries and textbooks of various languages. It tried to unite the country. In order to bring the various dialects closer to each other, development of education was considered necessary.
An attempt was made to spread primary education throughout the whole land. Scripts were given to those languages which had none. Vocabularies of various languages were developed. Russian language was used as a medium for propagating the views of Marx and Lenin.
Minority groups were made literate. Their vocabularies were developed. They were acquainted with the nature of industrial development.
The backward races were also taught the Russian language in order that they might also read and understand books which contained matters pertaining to vocational, industrial and agricultural skills.
For the Russification of the country, the Soviet government opened Russian schools which imparted education on the basis of communist ideology. Restrictions were placed on the Holy Syuod, Bishop of the Diocese and Church Councils. Studying in Russian schools was made compulsory for all.
The Zestov schools, municipal schools and people of Poland and Lithuania were compelled to send their children to these schools.
Four years of elementary education was arranged through a compulsory education scheme in Soviet Union. The communist movement of the government won the heart of the people and the students were also greatly influenced by the same.
The Provisional Government between 1917-1921 could not do much for education, but whatever it did was complete in itself. In 1918 religious education was banned and the whole education system of the country was placed under the Department of Public Instruction.
The authorities of the local organisations were given more powers. Universities were granted more autonomy. Under the new system of Education, Curators, Directors, Inspectors and Council of Primary Education was abolished.
According to the Act of 1918, four year curriculum schools were established for children between the age group of 13 and 17. Schools were also established for children between 8 and 13 years of age. Secondary education was made compulsory for children between the age group of 8 and 17.
Children’s Homes and schools were established in opposition to family life and in support of communistic ideologies. Educational institutions were given powers to determine the curriculum and to prescribe the text books.
A collective body was established giving representation to students, teachers and school councils. Thus a system was given to school administration. But Children’s Homes and schools and collective body system were never successful. At this time many multi-occupational schools and polytechnic schools were also established.
The period between 1921 and 1927 may be regarded as revolutionary from the point of view of education. During this period secondary schools and centres of vocational training were reorganised.
Primary schools and centres of vocational training were reorganised. Primary schools were no longer to be regarded as independent units. Higher education was also reorganised. The State Scientific Council took upon itself to organise the educational programmes.
Primary education was made a four year course and secondary education into a seven or nine year course. Teaching of communist doctrines and study of Soviet revolution was made compulsory. Educational programmes were to be organised on the basis of social tendencies, nature and labour.
The Union and the provincial governments were to shoulder the entire expenditure on education. The children of labourers were encouraged to take admission in schools. All these educational upheavals created some confusion among the students.
Consequently, Stalin started his first five year plan (1928- 1932). The Central Executive Committee, on August 14, 1930 took the momentous decision that the rural children over eight year of age would have to study four year curriculum and the children of the same age group in industrial town were required to study a seven year programme.
Arrangement was made for adequate higher, professional and technical education and research. The poor children were to be provided clothes, refreshments and boarding facilities. Competitive examinations were introduced for admission to centres of higher education. Restrictions placed on the study of various subjects were removed.
Thus the standard of education was raised. Teachers’ training institutions were also established. During 1929-33 the strength of students increased every year. New school buildings were constructed and old ones were repaired. Thus Stalin’s first five year plan has been of great significance.
The Soviet government reorganised the secondary schools’ curricula of general and cultural education. The government established a university of culture for higher technical schools. Maintenance grants were given for national industrial reconstruction.
Rules for attendance and other allied matters were determined for higher schools. Communist principles were incorporated in the entire educational set-up. Education of backward people was encouraged.
During the Second World War, because of the German invasion, teachers and students were deputed to the military services. Consequently, many schools were closed. However, some schools continued to function for promoting essential educational services.
The Moscow University at this time published 15 hundred scientific papers. Rules for compulsory education were predetermined. The system of awarding gold and silver medals and certificates was started for encouraging bright students. Separate schools were started for boys and girls.
A plan was formulated in 1944 for the development of the Leningrad and Rostov universities. In the same year five hundred teachers were awarded medals for their special trainings in the field of national economy.
Sufficient money was spent for reconstruction of old buildings of educational institutions and other buildings for universities and laboratories. After the end of the Second World War, new centres of higher learning were opened and a five year plan (1946-1950) was started for rehabilitation of citizens in certain areas of the country. In this plan special attention was paid to scientific research and technology.
Under these plans about 120 higher educational institutions were established and 13 lakh persons having obtained secondary education and seven lakhs having achieved higher education were deputed for doing developmental work in the various parts of the country.
In 1952, 3, 75,000 students were admitted in correspondence courses and other higher institutions. The government arranged for educational expenditure to the tune of 8 thousand rubles. This amount was 12.6% of the total budget.
In the fifth five year plan (1951-1955) the Nineteenth Congress of Communist Party gave directions for higher education.
Plans were made for the expansion of universal secondary education in various cities. Arrangements were made for technical, adult, general, correspondence and evening part- time education.