Agricultural Education

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Agricultural Education


a system of training advanced and middle-level specialists, skilled workers, and cadres of scientists and teachers in agriculture.

In prerevolutionary Russia, M. V. Lomonosov laid the foundation for agricultural education as a special branch of education; in 1765 his proposals were followed in organizing a class in agriculture at the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1790 the first Russian agricultural school was founded in the village of Bogoiavlenskoe, near Nikolaev. In 1797 the first practical school of agriculture was founded near St. Petersburg to train teachers for model farms. In 1822 the Moscow Agricultural School was opened; its purpose was to train serfs to be stewards, clerks, and surveyors. In the 1830’s general agricultural schools, of three years’ duration, and special agricultural schools, of one or two years’ duration, were organized to train foremen and skilled workers, such as gardeners, wine makers, and stock raisers. Lower agricultural schools, of three years’ duration, trained district agronomists and agronomists’ assistants. The first agricultural secondary school was founded in Moscow in 1835. During the 19th century, about 20 such schools were opened; their graduates included agronomists, surveyors, gardeners, foresters, winegrowers, hydrotechnics experts, and specialists in clearing the land and improving the soil.

One of the first agricultural higher educational institutions was organized in 1816 in the vicinity of Warsaw—the Novo-aleksandriia Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (later the Kharkov Agricultural Institute). In 1840 the Gory-Goretsk Agricultural School, a three-year institution of higher learning, was founded in Mogilev Province. Its lower division trained stewards and estate managers; its higher division trained agronomists and managers of large farms, generalists capable of working in all branches of agriculture. In 1848 the school’s higher division was reorganized into an institute, which later became the Byelorussian Agricultural Academy. The Pe-trovskoe-Razumovskoe Farming and Forestry Academy, founded in 1865 near Moscow, played a major role in the growth of higher agricultural education and agricultural science; in the academy, now known as the K. A. Timiriazev Moscow Academy of Agriculture, several major schools of thought in Soviet agricultural science have taken shape.

Veterinary medicine was first taught in the medical schools of the universities. In 1805 the first independent chair for livestock treatment was formed in Moscow University, and the principles of veterinary medicine were first taught at the University of Kharkov. The first veterinary schools were founded in 1808. Several veterinary schools and institutes were opened later in the century—the Iur’ev and Kharkov schools in 1873 and 1875, respectively, and the Kazan Institute in 1873. Surveying was first taught in the Higher Surveying School (later the Land Surveying Institute), founded in Moscow in 1779.

Until 1907 several universities and polytechnic institutes also taught agriculture. In 1914 there were 341 agricultural schools, including nine institutions of higher learning, with 5,400 students; 18 secondary schools, with 4,000 students; 61 lower schools (uchilishcha); 74 first-category lower schools (shkoly); 35 second-category schools; 60 practical schools; 34 primary and public schools; and 50 other educational institutions. There were no agricultural schools in Siberia, Middle Asia, or the Far East.

From the earliest years of Soviet power, the Communist Party and Soviet government have given a high priority to agricultural education. In 1918 and 1919 seven agricultural higher learning institutions, including the Siberian Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechny, were founded. Between 1917 and 1927 institutions of higher learning and technicums were founded in Bashkiria, Uzbekistan, Kirghizia, Buriatia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Tadzhikistan, and Turkmenia. In 1940 there were 67 institutions of higher learning, with 52,000 students, and 256 technicums, with 114,700 students.

In 1975 the USSR had 100 agricultural higher learning institutions and 621 technicums, including 200 sovkhoz-technicums, in all the Union republics. There were more than 1 million students in the institutions of higher learning and technicums, including 430,000 in the former. The institutions of higher learning graduated 59,700 specialists, and the technicums 166,400; they admitted 89,500 and 218,100 students, respectively. Many of the students, 75–80 percent, were from rural areas; 20–25 percent received stipends from a kolkhoz or sovkhoz.

The system of agricultural education in the USSR uses a broad general-scientific approach and a more specialized approach to train cadres in all branches of agricultural production. Its growth and development are intimately linked with such names as A. V. Sovetov, K. A. Timiriazev, V. R. Vil’iams, V. V. Dokuchaev, V. P. Goriachkin, P. N. Kuleshov, E. A. Bogdanov, D. N. Prianishnikov, M. F. Ivanov, K. I. Skriabin, S. N. Vyshelesskii, I. P. Pavlov, D. A. Kislovskii, A. N. Sokolovskii, and P. I. Lisitsyn, all of whom founded major schools of thought in agricultural science.

Agricultural education is organized regionally, with the natural, economic, and demographic features of the Union republics and economic regions taken into account.

Advanced and secondary agricultural schools have both regular and correspondence students; correspondence students account for 45 and 50 percent, respectively, of the students at institutions of higher learning and technicums.

The network of higher agricultural educational institutions includes 100 academies and institutes (1975). The various institutions of higher agricultural education have 288 sections devoted to science, including 42 special-project laboratories, 25 test stations, 66 subdepartmental research laboratories, 99 research divisions, 124 training and test farms, and eight state forest establishments. They train cadres in 34 disciplines, for example, agronomy, zootechny, veterinary medicine, the mechanization of agriculture, the electrification of agriculture, the automation of agricultural production, the economics and organization of agricultural production, and irrigation and drainage. They also train cadres in 41 fields of specialization, for example, agricultural land improvement, the production of feeds, fur farming, horse breeding, industrial methods in milk production, and the mechanization of animal husbandry. The first two years of study at such institutions of higher learning are devoted to general education, for example, biology, physics, biophysics, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, microbiology, zoology, higher mathematics, geodesy, agrometeorology, and a foreign language. The third year is devoted to special disciplines, for example, the raising and feeding of farm animals, zoohygiene, the economics and organization of agricultural production, agricultural chemistry, plant growing, crop cultivation, entomology, land improvement, the mechanization and automation of agricultural production, and the processing of agricultural products. A great deal of attention is given to social studies. During actual farm work the students receive practical instruction and practical experience on training farms and on especially productive farms, where they master an occupation, such as the operation of tractors, combines or other agricultural vehicles. Since 1974, graduates have served one year on especially productive farms as junior specialists.

Scientific and pedagogical cadres are trained in postgraduate programs in institutions of higher learning and in scientific research institutions. In 1975 the various institutions of higher learning employed 30,000 teachers, including 1,311 doctors of sciences and professors, 12,500 candidates of sciences, and do-cents. Every year more than 5,000 teachers raise their credentials and improve their knowledge at subdepartments at leading institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutions.

Agricultural technicums teach a variety of subjects. A specialization in agronomy is offered at 240 such technicums, mechanization of agriculture at 216, zooveterinary medicine at 260, irrigation and drainage at 54, economic planning in 178, and land management in 20. Eighteen specialties are offered, including agronomy, plant protection, agricultural chemistry, mechanization of agriculture, zootechny, veterinary medicine, electrification of agriculture, and irrigation and drainage. The curricula include both general education (the ninth and tenth years in a regular secondary school) and specialized disciplines. About 30 percent of the time in school is devoted to practical training, during which the students master one or two occupations. The technicums have 29,000 teachers. For training in specialized disciplines, there are one-year pedagogical departments in the Moscow agricultural and veterinary academies, the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy, and the Moscow Institute of Agricultural Production Engineering. Eight institutions of higher learning have special departments for raising the qualifications of teachers at agricultural technicums.

Skilled agricultural workers are trained in vocational-training technical schools. In 1975 there were 1,470 rural vocational-training technical schools, with 626,600 students; of these, 572, with 176,500 students, also provided a general secondary education. More than 550,000 students are admitted, and about 500,000 are graduated. The vocational-technical schools train cadres in 99 occupations, for example, tractor operators-mechanics qualified to repair farm equipment, foresters, master fruit and vegetable growers, stockmen, flower and ornamentals specialists, and operators of livestock complexes. More than 80 percent of the graduates are agricultural machine operators, for example, tractor operators—mechanics and combine operators. In 1974,926,000 machine operators were trained in the vocational training schools or in kolkhozes, sovkhozes, or other agricultural enterprises. More than 2 million kolkhoz members learned new occupations or improved their skills in old ones.

Modern agricultural education also involves improving the skills of specialists. Eighty-six special departments have been formed in higher agricultural educational institutions, 270 special schools have been formed in technicums, 23 one-year programs have been instituted in various economics departments, 263 special divisions for the training of leading cadres have been formed in technicums, and 100 schools for agricultural management have been organized.

In 1974, 882,000 advanced and middle-level agricultural specialists and 2.6 million machine operators were employed in kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and auxiliary and other agricultural production enterprises.

In several socialist countries—Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland—the system of agricultural education is essentially like that in the USSR. In others, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), for example, advanced agricultural specialists are for the most part trained in the agriculture departments of the universities. In Bulgaria, noted centers of agricultural education are the Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Sofia, the Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture in Ruse, and institutes of fruits and vegetables in Plovdiv. Czechoslovakia has agricultural institutes in Prague, Nitra, and Brno and a veterinary institute in Koŝice. Hungary has the University of Agricultural Sciences in Gödöllõ, agricultural institutes in Debrecen and Keszthely, the University of Veterinary Science in Budapest, and the University of Forestry and the Timber Industry in Sopron. The GDR has agriculture departments in several universities—Humboldt University in Berlin, Karl Marx University in Leipzig, the Technical University in Dresden, the University of Rostock, F. Schiller University in Jena, and Martin Luther University in Halle; it also has the Institute for Agriculture and Food Production in Bernburg and the Institute for Agricultural Production Cooperatives in Meissen.

In the capitalist countries, agriculture is taught in universities, special agricultural institutes, colleges, and various other schools. In the USA the schools of agriculture at the state universities in Iowa, Nebraska, and Michigan are leading centers of agricultural education. In Canada the departments and schools of agriculture in the universities in Montreal, Quebec, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are prominent. In Great Britain the agriculture faculties of Cambridge, London, Oxford, and Reading universities are well known. France has the National Institute of Agronomy in Paris; it also has agricultural higher educational institutions in Grignon, Rennes, Nantes, and Toulouse, a school of water and forest management in Nantes, a school of tropical crops in Nogent-sur-Marne, a veterinary school in Maisons-Alfort, a school of horticulture in Versailles, a school of agricultural construction in Strasbourg, and an engineering and technical school for agriculture in Paris. The Netherlands has an agricultural university in Wageningen. Sweden has the Royal Agricultural Institute in Uppsala and the Royal Forestry and Veterinary School in Stockholm. India has agricultural universities in Patnagarh, Ludhiana, Hisar, Coimbatore, Rahuri, Bangalore, and Hyderabad and an agricultural research institute in New Delhi.

Agricultural education is making rapid strides in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. In an effort to help the developing countries organize the training of their own agricultural personnel, there has been formed, by a resolution of the United Nations, the Joint FAO-UNESCO-ILO Advisory Committee on Agricultural Education, Science, and Training, of which the USSR is a member.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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