in the USSR a general educational institution or a division of an educational institution that in the 1920’s and 1930’s prepared young persons who had not received a secondary education for higher educational institutions.
According to the regulations for acceptance into higher educational institutions that were established by a decree issued by the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR on Aug. 2, 1918, workers were granted the right to enter such institutions even without a document attesting to their education. These new regulations attracted a large number of workers and peasants to higher educational institutions. However, the insufficient general educational preparation of those accepted by the higher institutions made it necessary to organize special courses for those workers who desired a higher education.
In 1919 a decree was adopted providing for the opening of special evening courses to prepare workers and peasants for higher institutions. Courses were set up in Moscow as independent institutions or as divisions of higher institutions. The first workers’ school was organized on the basis of such courses in 1919 at the Commercial Institute (now the G. V. Plekhanov Moscow Institute of the National Economy) and later at other higher educational institutions in Moscow. In September 1919 the People’s Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR adopted a decree providing for the opening of workers’ schools at universities as autonomous auxiliary educational institutions with specialized courses for preparing workers and peasants in the shortest possible amount of time for higher institutions.
The system of workers’ schools was given legal form by the decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR On Workers’ Schools, which was issued on Sept. 17, 1920. The schools accepted workers and peasants 16 years of age or older on leave from various enterprises, trade unions, or party or state agencies. Study at the schools was given equal status with work in production, and the students were guaranteed state stipends.
During the academic year 1921–22 a three-year term of instruction was established at daytime workers’ schools and a four-year term at evening schools. Prior to 1924 members of the national minorities studied primarily at workers’ schools in Moscow and Leningrad. Later in the decade national workers’ schools were opened, as were national divisions at general workers’ schools. In the academic year 1925–26 about 40 percent of those accepted at higher educational institutions were graduates of workers’ schools. By the 1932–33 academic year moore than 1,000 workers’ schools were in operation, with a total enrollment of approximately 350,000.
Workers’ schools were established at branch higher educational institutions, making equipment, laboratories, and classrooms available to the students and strengthening the ties between the workers’ schools and higher schools. During the second half of the 1930’s, in connection with the development of general and specialized secondary education, the workers’ schools declined in importance and were subsequently closed.
Workers’ schools played an important role in implementing Communist Party policy directed at democratizing higher educational institutions and preparing the cadres of the worker and peasant intelligentsia. In 1969 preparatory divisions were established at higher educational institutions in accordance with a decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR aimed at raising the level of the general educational preparation of working and rural youth and establishing, on their behalf, the necessary conditions for enrollment at higher educational institutions.
N. V. ALEKSANDROV