Kharkiv Women's Sunday School

Image - Khrystyna Alchevskas Kharkiv Womens Sunday School (1890s).

Kharkiv Women's Sunday School (Харківська жіноча недільна школа; Kharkivska zhinocha nedilna shkola). One of the first and most important institutions of adult education not only in Ukraine but in the Russian Empire (see Sunday schools). It was founded by Khrystyna Alchevska in 1862 as a literacy school for women, mostly working-class women, and for many years it was the only school of its kind in the entire Russian Empire (see Education of women). Before its official opening in 1870, it operated illegally at the home of its founder. Instruction was free and the minimum age of admission was 10. By the 1890s the enrollment reached over 450. For four hours on Sundays the students were taught elementary-school subjects and read the works of Ukrainian writers, particularly of Taras Shevchenko. With her teaching staff Alchevska worked out a methodology for adult education that stressed the use of literary works instead of primers, close student-teacher contact, discussion instead of rote learning, and student involvement in curriculum planning. Convinced that students should be taught in the language that they know best, Alchevska taught in the Ukrainian language until it was banned. The school's teachers compiled a bibliographic guide for adult students, Chto chitat’ narodu (What the People Should Read, 3 vols, 1884–1906), and a teaching manual for instructors, Kniga vzroslykh (Book for Adults, 3 vols, 1899–1900). Funded by private donations, the school existed for over 50 years and served as a model for literacy schools throughout Ukraine and Russia.

Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]




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