Major schools

Major schools [головні школи; holovni shkoly]. Public elementary schools established in cities of the Austrian Empire and Russian Empire in the 18th century. In their Austrian variant, major schools (German: Hauptschulen) had a four-year program with a teacher for each grade. Clerics were often the instructors at and the administrators of the schools. After completing practical training, graduates of major schools were qualified to teach in the more rudimentary trivium schools. Major schools were established in the larger cities of Galicia and Bukovyna in 1776; instruction was in German and later in Polish. Courses were taught in Ukrainian only at the Basilian major school in Lavriv (1789–1911) (see Lavriv Saint Onuphrius's Monastery), which graduated 7,000 students. After the Austrian reorganization of urban public schools in 1863, the major schools were transformed into seven-year public elementary schools (see also Senior elementary school).

In 1786 Catherine II issued the Statute for Public Schools in the Russian Empire, which made education a state responsibility and established major schools (Russian: главные народные училища; glavnye narodnye uchilishcha). Modelled largely on the Austrian model, these schools had a five-year, four-grade program, with the final grade lasting two years. Graduates of the major schools could become teachers at minor schools. Major schools were established only in large cities and towns. The first Ukrainian major school was established in Kyiv in 1789. Major schools were abolished in 1804 with Alexander I’s school reform and replaced with county schools.

Bohdan Krawchenko

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]




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