Who and why the myth of the 80% of literate children in tsarist Russia?


One of the undoubted achievements of the Bolsheviks is universal literacy, but it is the supporters of the “Russia that we lost” are going to take away from the creators of the world’s first state of workers and peasants.

Educated in the Soviet Union citizens from a school bench knew that the vast majority of the population of pre-revolutionary Russia was illiterate, and who came to power after the great October socialist revolution, the Bolsheviks developed and implemented the program of universal education.

This seemingly immutable fact, even in the years of perestroika was not questioned.

After the restructuring about him just stopped talking, and teachers in schools, especially from the new generation, often told their children about “bloody Bolsheviks”, rather than on the achievements of the Soviet government.

Of course, that this interpretation is anything but disgust to the history of their own country, can cause.

But there are other implications of this interpretation.

If all the time to smear black paint of the Bolsheviks, the person subconsciously may have the prejudice that they by definition could not do anything good.

In the end, here and there we hear that the achievements of Soviet power are not achievements, and supposedly inherited by the Bolsheviks from the tsarist Russia.

I touched it and the question of education.

“Another interesting example.

In 1920, the newly-minted Ministry of education, which was then called the Commissariat, and decided to explore what literacy in the Soviet Union, the then new Soviet Russia.

And a census literate population in the most backward, illiterate, dark Russia.

1920 — this is the third year of the Civil war.

Understand that the majority of schools does not work, the devastation, paying teachers — always a huge problem, and so on.

So it became clear that teenagers from 12 to 16 years 86% literate,” said Bishop mark Tikhon (Shevkunov) during the lecture, “the February revolution: what was that?”, held 3 September 2017 in a multimedia historical Park “Russia — my story” city of Yekaterinburg.

And then he concludes that all these children were educated in tsarist Russia.

Кому и зачем нужен миф о 80% грамотных детей в царской России?

A statement loud and articulated figures are shocking.

It is possible that Mr Bishop Tikhon took this “statistics” from someone that is just quoting, not citing the author, and explicitly mentioned the data source.

Personally, I could not find such statements from the lips of any historian, and most searches on the Internet directly leads to the statement Shevkunova.

Moreover, we have repeatedly had to hear something like that from young presenters during the historic debate and meet in the form of “argument” from users in social networks.

All they kept saying quoted above in his own way, referring to the same census.

Moreover, they say, or 80% literate children exist, or 80% literate “recruits”, or only the urban children.

We can assume that there are other sources, but it’s voiced in Yekaterinburg it Shevkunov and he refers to the census of 1920, it will take him a quote, looking to the mentioned census, the benefit is not secret information and everyone can find it in the public domain.

In the preliminary census results that were published almost immediately, initially there was no age separation.

It is the state of public education in 1920-21 academic year.

Considered educational institutions: preschool, school, College, and even reading rooms.

Rewritten pupils of I and II levels, with a total of 5.9 million children.

The same census, in which this interpolated value, and determines the total number of citizens of the Russian Federation and Ukraine (excluding the territories where the Civil war continued).

It amounted to 131.5 million people.

In later bulletins of the Central statistical office 1922-23 years literacy according to the census of 1920.

For all citizens over five years old it is just over 37%.

When there is a breakdown by age but not claimed by Bishop Tikhon of 12 to 16 years, and from 8 to 15 years.

And calculated not in absolute terms and per 1000 people of this age — 49% of literate children aged 8 to 15 years.

Кому и зачем нужен миф о 80% грамотных детей в царской России?

How many were children at the time?

The average values of the modern age — more than a third of the population.

But Russia beginning of the XX century was much more “young”.

More accurate all-Union census of 1926, which shows the age groups of the 147 million citizens till 19 years — 71.3 million

To calculate how many children 12 to 16 years, also is impossible, since the census presents the age group from 10 to 14 and from 15 to 19 years.

If we summarize them, we get 33.9 million, of which 20.3 million are literate inhabitants of the Soviet Union from 10 to 19 years.

As you can see, it’s two-thirds (which are for students, and under recruits), not 86%, as stated by Bishop Tikhon, and this data is 1926, not 1920.

Even more difficult to explain the fact that on 19 July 1920 came the decree of the Council of people’s Commissars of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR SNK) on the establishment of the all-Russian extraordinary Commission for the eradication of illiteracy.

And in fact it was created precisely because the ignorance of the majority of the population was the heavy legacy of the tsarist period, in which the Bolsheviks were eager to overcome.

And in the end overcame, that is an undoubted fact (first the Soviet Union was a 4-year universal education, then 7-year and 10-year-old, and in the late 70s — early 80s raised the question of universal higher education).

It should be noted that the criteria for the assessment of literacy in the census of 1920 was very extended, particularly in the literate record all those who knew how to spell and write their name in their native language or Russian.

For the medieval state is the level of modernized countries of Europe at that time, the level of knowledge was not good.

Moreover, he was not fit for Soviet Russia, which still had upgrade.

Кому и зачем нужен миф о 80% грамотных детей в царской России?

But why construct a myth about the allegedly high level of literacy in the Russian Empire before its collapse?

The answer is given in the same lecture “the February revolution: what was that?”, which was read at the opening of the Museum in Yekaterinburg.

“There is a General widespread opinion, tsarist Russia seemed hopelessly backward, dark, poor country, the Nations which oppressed the incompetent and bloody monarchist regime,” — said Bishop mark Tikhon.

And all his further narrative was aimed at the refutation of the “common popular opinion”.

But the fact that the reference to documentary historical source, which, of course, is the census of 1920, despite the fact that the original evaluation criteria literacy is not unconditional, is the only one, as we have seen, is incorrect.

Everything else said during the lecture (and it was not only about education) are either narrative sources (quotes by famous historical characters), which are subjective narratives, or a statement of positive statistical data without considering the context of the era.

But these statistics about the state of Affairs in pre-revolutionary Russia (also preserved the documents) and has not been challenged, even in the Soviet period of history.

Nobody in their right mind has ever denied that the Russian Empire was a developing country.

The problem was that Russia was developing quickly enough, as required by the challenges of our era, and among the industrialized European powers, Russia remained an agrarian country.

Because you can’t just talk about building, say, a hundred new plants and thousands of kilometres of railway, without giving the number of the working class and the density of railway communication subject area of the state.

Also you can not rely on Soviet documents, indicating the figures that after the call to the originator does not hold water.

And you have to be a sad conclusion.

As on the eve of perestroika followed by the collapse of the country, society are the myths about the high level of education in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Misleading data such respectable people, whose opinions are listened to, trust said.

Given the speed with which spreads the myth of the 80% literacy rate, level of critical thinking is quite low.

Кому и зачем нужен миф о 80% грамотных детей в царской России?

But just enough to go to the source to find the truth.

Or the sources on other aspects of the economy and the socio-economic situation of Russia before the revolution.

But, as before 1991, the part of the citizens, alas, despite the bitter experience, believe “a word”.

But who need all this to do?

Apparently, those who for nearly three decades constructs the image of “Russia which we lost”.

But if we consider that Russia, relying on real facts and figures, we will inevitably come to the conclusion that the February and the ensuing Great October socialist revolution — is a natural consequences existed in the Russian Empire’s socio-economic problems, and the creation of the Soviet state — the stage of the historic ascent of Russia, and not “dead-end path of development.”

And then, inevitably raises the question of how and by what right do all these reformers of the 90s that went nowhere, continue to “streamline” the Russian education is actually resetting it?

After all, we are witnessing a return to pre-revolutionary Russia.

Scary to imagine, but if the degradation of the schools and universities are not stopped, soon we’ll rewrite as literate those who can read in syllables and to write their names in their native language.

Кому и зачем нужен миф о 80% грамотных детей в царской России?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here