About Our Schools

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The all-Russia school census of January 18, 1911, makes it possible—despite the extremely bad processing of the data—slightly to lift the veil of official secrecy.

The only data available so far are those on the St. Petersburg academic district, separately for the towns and villages. Let us see on the basis of these data what our parish schools are like.

In the towns, there were 329 city one-class schools, 139 private third-category and 177 parish one-class schools. Let us compare the schoolmistresses’ average salaries (the number of schoolmasters is quite small): city schools—924 rubles a year, private—609, parish—302.

Poor, starving schoolmistresses—that is what our parish schools are.

Let us see what the percentage of teachers with higher and secondary lay general education is. In the city schools—76 per cent, private—67 per cent, and parish—18 per cent!

Uneducated schoolmistresses (we say nothing as yet about the teachers of catechism)—that is what our parish schools are.

In the villages we have 3,545 Zemstvo one-class schools and 2,506 parish one-class schools. In the former, the average salary of schoolmistresses is 374 rubles a year, in the latter—301 rubles.

In the former, educated teachers (teachers in general) come to 20 per cent, in the latter—2.5 per cent—once again without the teachers of catechism.

These data give an idea of the plight of the parish schools!

The census has also collected data on the average number of square arshins[1] of floor-space and cubic arshins of air space per pupil—i.e., the crowding of schools.

The Zemstvo schools have 2.6 sq. arshins of floor-space and 10.1 cu. arshins of air; the parish schools, 2.4 sq. arshins and 9.6 cu. arshins, respectively.

The floor-space should be six times the light area of the windows. Actually, it is nine times greater, i.e., the schools are not only crowded, but also dark.

These data are, of course, extremely meagre. The Ministry tried very hard to prevent the collection of detailed, precise and full data on the beggarly condition of our schools.

Even so, the beggarly condition of the parish schools stands out in these incomplete, officially curtailed and poorly processed data.

One of the vital tasks before the representatives of workers’ cultural and educational and trade union organisations at the forthcoming All-Russia Congress on Public Education is to make a comprehensive presentation of the question and to shed every possible light on the condition of our schools and schoolteachers.

  1. ↑ Arshin = 28 inches.—Ed.