Richelieu Lyceum

Image - The Richelieu Lyceum in Odesa (late 19th century). Image - The Richelieu Lyceum in Odesa.

Richelieu Lyceum (Рішелівський ліцей; Rishelivskyi litsei). A private institution of learning, founded in 1817 in Odesa. It was named in honor of the former governor-general of New Russia, Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis duc de Richelieu. Students were drawn primarily from the aristocracy and wealthy merchant families. French was the only language of instruction until 1820, when a number of Russian pedagogues became affiliated with the lyceum and began to teach classes in Russian as well. Until 1837 the lyceum operated as a gymnasium. Its eight-year program emphasized philosophy and juridical-political studies and precluded technical or professional specialization. Under Ivan Orlai (the lyceum's director in 1826–9) teaching methods were modernized, and departments of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, and history were established. A pedagogical institute was also formed as a branch of the lyceum. Its function was to prepare pedagogical cadres for district and commercial schools. In 1837 the lyceum's status rose to that of an institution of higher education. At that time also an Eastern languages institute was established to train translators for military departments. In 1842 agricultural and natural science sections were added, and the institute's mandate became the preparation of government officials for various departments. By 1848 the lyceum had a seven-year gymnasium preparatory school affiliated with it. Under the influence of Nikolai Pirogov, who became head of the Odesa school district in 1856, the lyceum became the basis for New Russia University, established in 1865. The institute's library collection subsequently developed into the Odesa Library. It was one of the most important libraries in Russian-ruled Ukraine, with a collection of 314,000 volumes in 1915.

In 1989 the Richelieu Lyceum was re-established as a specialized secondary school for gifted students, affiliated with Odesa University and with a curriculum focused on mathematics and science education.

Natalka Freeland

[This article was updated in 2011.]

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