Secondary education

Secondary education [середнє шкільництво; serednie shkilnytstvo]. Instruction in schools for children who have completed elementary education; it provides either a general or a specialized program of study and allows students to continue their studies in institutes of higher education.

In Ukraine, prior to the 18th century there was no significant difference among lower, middle, and higher schools. Nor was a distinction made between general and specialized programs of study. Brotherhood schools, college schools, and schools run by the Jesuits, the Basilian monastic order, and the Piarists provided what could be considered secondary education. Toward the end of the 18th and in the first half of the 19th century the boarding school offered basic secondary education, as did the gymnasium and Realschule in the first half of the 19th century. The gymnasiums, lyceums, and institutes for daughters of the nobility were among the establishments offering secondary education for girls. (See Education of women.) Secondary education was also provided by Orthodox theological seminaries.

With the abolition of serfdom in 1861, secondary education in Russian-ruled Ukraine gradually expanded. A new development was the establishment of secondary professional schools. (See Professional and vocational education.) The language of instruction in schools in Ukrainian territories within the Russian Empire was Russian. Only a tiny proportion of youths of school age obtained secondary education. The impoverishment of the Ukrainian peasantry and social and national discrimination resulted in a low percentage of school-age children attending secondary schools. (Two-thirds of children of school age in Ukraine in 1915 had never set foot inside a classroom.) The 1897 general population census revealed that there were only 192,582 people in the Ukrainian gubernias (out of a total population of 23.4 million) with complete secondary education, of whom 40 percent were members of the nobility or high-ranking bureaucrats.

 In Western Ukraine under Austrian rule, gymnasiums and Realschulen were the principal institutions offering secondary education. There were relatively few secondary schools in Western Ukraine. In all of Galicia in 1906–7, for example, there were only 68 secondary schools, with 107,000 students, and in Bukovyna, 10 such schools, with a total enrollment of 7,300 (of which 1,800 were Ukrainians). Efforts by the Ukrainian community leadership to develop a network of Ukrainian secondary schools faced serious obstacles. The mass of the rural population was impoverished. In addition there were political barriers which were difficult to overcome. In Galicia, for example, the Polish majority in the provincial Diet systematically blocked the development of a Ukrainian-language network of secondary schools. (The establishment of any secondary school required the passage of a resolution by the Diet.) As a result there were only six state-supported Ukrainian gymnasiums in Galicia in 1909–10.

In the course of the Ukrainian struggle for independence (1917–20), secondary education was somewhat Ukrainianized, particularly in the gymnasiums. Wartime conditions did not permit the realization of the proposed 12-grade unified labor schools, advocated by the Ukrainian National Republic, in which grades 9 to 12 were to have constituted general secondary education. During the period of the Western Ukrainian National Republic the Austrian system of education was retained, although efforts were undertaken to Ukrainianize secondary education.

Secondary education underwent many changes after the establishment of Soviet rule in Ukraine. In 1920 a new version of the unified labor school was introduced in the Ukrainian SSR. Grades five to seven of the seven-year school offered secondary education. Graduates of the schools were able to continue their education in secondary professional schools, tekhnikums, or institutes.

In 1934 education throughout the USSR was unified, and Ukraine lost its distinctive education system. The ten-year school was established as the basic institution of general secondary education. The seven-year school was established as the main institution offering incomplete secondary education. Since the 1930s a wide variety of other types of schools offering secondary education have been established, among them schools for workers' youth and schools for rural youth. Tekhnikums have been reduced to the status of secondary general-education. Parallel to the general secondary education system is a network of schools offering secondary special education.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, under Nikita Khrushchev, secondary education was reformed to stress polytechnical education. The 1966 school act downplayed this trend. In the late 1980s major reforms of the secondary school curriculum were undertaken, among them the rewriting of history and literature textbooks to rid the school program of the distortions of the past. During these reforms a large-scale public debate about the state of secondary education unfolded. Among the major concerns addressed were the scarcity of resources allocated to secondary education and the resulting shortage and inadequacy of buildings (almost 20 percent of schools operated on a two- or three-shift basis) and the absence of laboratory facilities and modern technology, such as computers.

Until the 1920s only a small number of people obtained secondary education. In 1914–15 (within the boundaries of contemporary Ukraine) there were 386 incomplete general secondary schools and 480 general secondary schools, with 49,600 and 185,800 pupils respectively. In 1927–8, incomplete general secondary schools numbered 2,420, and general secondary schools 28, with a total enrollment of 2.9 million and 231,900 respectively. By 1988–9 there were 7,984 incomplete secondary schools, with 1.1 million pupils, and 9,543 secondary general-education schools, with 5.6 million pupils.

In 1958, eight years of schooling was made compulsory for all Soviet children. In 1966, universal 10-year complete secondary education was decreed and was to have been achieved by 1970. That goal, however, was not realized.

In the 1920s the educational system underwent Ukrainization. By 1929–30, 74 percent of all seven-year schools had Ukrainian as their language of instruction. The Russification of Ukraine’s educational system, initiated in 1932–3, continued unabated until 1989. In the 1960s, for example, only 21 percent of pupils attending ten-year schools in urban centers studied in Ukrainian-language establishments. Since 1989, when Ukrainian was granted state-language status, and with the rise of the Ukrainian national movement, the number of Ukrainian-language secondary schools has gradually increased.

In the 1920s and 1930s, in Ukraine under Polish rule, gymnasiums and lyceums functioned as the basic institutions offering secondary education. Technical schools were not numerous. In 1937–8 the number of students attending gymnasiums and lyceums was approximately 45,000. The number of Ukrainian students attending these schools was negligible because the transition from rural elementary schools to secondary schools was difficult. The Polonization of secondary education and the reluctance of the Polish authorities to allow the establishment of Ukrainian secondary schools further hindered Ukrainian access to secondary education. In 1937–8 there were only 24 Ukrainian gymnasiums, of which 19 were private institutions, and 21 lyceums, of which 16 were private schools. In Transcarpathia (under Czechoslovak rule), in 1938 there were 11 gymnasiums, of which 5 were Ukrainian institutions. In Bukovyna (under Romanian occupation) all Ukrainian secondary schools had been Romanianized by 1927.

In the same period Ukrainian émigrés established gymnasiums in Prague (see Ukrainian Gymnasium in Czechoslovakia) and in Kalisz, Poland. In 1945–50 many types of secondary schools operated in Ukrainian displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria. At present the only secondary institutions outside Ukraine which use Ukrainian as the language of instruction are those located in Slovakia, the Saint Josaphat's Ukrainian Pontifical Minor Seminary associated with Saint Josaphat's Ukrainian Pontifical College in Rome, and those offering Ukrainian bilingual education, in western Canada. Ukrainian has been taught in private schools in the United States, Canada, and Brazil and in public and Catholic schools in some provinces of Canada (where numbers warrant).

Narodna osvita, nauka i kul’tura v Ukraïns’kii RSR: Statystychnyi zbirnyk (Kyiv 1973)
Sirka, A. The Nationality Question in Austrian Education: The Case of Ukrainians in Galicia, 1867–1914 (Frankfurt 1980)
Matthews, M. Education in the Soviet Union: Policies and Institutions since Stalin (London 1982)

Bohdan Krawchenko

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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