Compulsory universal education

Compulsory universal education. Education of all children within a given age bracket in general-education schools. In the Ukrainian lands of the Russian Empire, as in the empire’s other territories, there was no compulsory universal education. At the urging of the zemstvos and community organizations and in connection with the State Duma’s adoption of a bill on compulsory universal education (1907), the school system was enlarged, but as late as 1915 almost half the school-aged Ukrainian children in the Russian Empire were not enrolled in schools. With the Revolution of 1917 the Ukrainian government prepared a law on compulsory universal education, but wartime conditions prevented its application.

In the Ukrainian SSR compulsory universal education was introduced by resolution on 30 July 1924 for children aged 8 to 11; nevertheless, in 1927, 17 percent of school-aged children were not enrolled. In 1930–1 a requirement of seven years’ compulsory education was introduced. The law of 17 April 1959 ‘On the Strengthening of the Bond between School and Life and on the Further Development of the System of Public Education’ introduced compulsory universal education for children aged 7 to 15–16 within an eight-year program known as incomplete secondary education.

In Galicia and Bukovyna the Austrian government introduced compulsory universal education at the end of the 18th century, but in 1812 the program was deferred. It was reintroduced by law in 1868, 1869, and 1883; the program was to be six to seven years in length. But these requirements were not strictly observed, and in 1912–13 a large percentage of school-aged children were still not enrolled: in Galicia, some 20 percent; in Bukovyna, 3 percent (65 percent in 1882). Conditions were worse in Transcarpathia, where, in spite of a law on compulsory universal education (1868), some 40 percent of Ukrainian children were not enrolled as late as 1910.

In Western Ukraine, during the period of Polish occupation (1920-39), a seven-year program of compulsory general education was introduced (for the first time in the northwestern Ukrainian territories), but it came into effect gradually: in 1937–8, 10 percent of Ukrainian children in Galicia were not enrolled; in the northwestern Ukrainian territories the figure stood at 25 percent. In Transcarpathia, beginning in 1930, compulsory general education was extended to eight years, and, owing to the expansion of the school system, all school-aged children were enrolled. In Ukrainian lands under Romanian rule there was a seven-year program of compulsory universal education.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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