Correspondence Education

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Correspondence Education


one of the forms of training and upgrading the qualifications of specialists with higher and secondary specialized education, as well as of obtaining a general secondary education without interruption of production work. In contrast to the day system of education, the principal form of instruction in correspondence education is the independent work of the students.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries in Russia, as well as in other countries, various textbooks and popular scientific and vocational journals were published for the purpose of self-education and for the system of external study. However, there was no scientifically developed system of correspondence education. It remained a matter for the private initiative of progressive scholars and progressive socially minded leaders and public organizations. The first system of correspondence education at all levels was created in the USSR. The Eighth Congress of the Communist Party (1919) adopted a resolution on rendering all manner of state aid to the self-education and self-development of workers and peasants. Beginning in the 1920’s literature was issued for the purposes of self-education, such as School at Home, under the general editorship of N. K. Krupskaia, The People’s Home University, The Workers’ School at Home, Prepare for a Higher Educational Institution, The Workers’ Technicum at Home, and Study by Yourself. Between 1923 and 1929 courses began to be offered within a correspondence system of instruction (foreign languages, Soviet construction, the trade-union movement and communications, a communist correspondence university, and a correspondence industrial academy). During the years 1926–27 certain of the Moscow higher educational institutions—the Second Moscow State University, the M. V. Lomonosov Mechanics Institute, the K. A. Timiriazev Agricultural Academy, and others—opened up correspondence divisions, in which 37,000 students were enrolled. These correspondence divisions (courses) were primarily engaged in upgrading the qualifications of specialists, and they assisted young people by preparing them to pass examinations as external students. In 1927 the Central Institute of Correspondence Instruction and the Young People’s Institute of the Central Committee of the Komsomol were created; the latter was transformed in 1930 into the All-Union Agricultural Institute of Correspondence Education. More than 30 correspondence divisions were opened at agricultural higher educational institutions. In 1929 the Board of the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR gave its approval to the fundamental organizational principles of higher and secondary correspondence education. In 1929–30 correspondence education was developed further; several central correspondence branch institutions of higher technical education were created, as well as bases at enterprises. By the beginning of 1931 there were more than 350,000 persons enrolled in higher and secondary educational institutions belonging to the correspondence educational system.

During the years 1929–32 the largest correspondence institutes were established, including the Ail-Union Industrial (now Polytechnic) Institute in Moscow, the Leningrad Industrial (now the Northwestern Polytechnical) Institute, and the Ail-Union Institute of Finance and Economics (in Moscow), and others. In 1937 the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR adopted the resolution On the Organization of General Educational Correspondence Instruction for Adults Within the System of the People’s Commissariat of Education, in accordance with which secondary general educational correspondence schools began to be established; they prepared students for taking exams as external students in day schools (there was no education certificate granted by a correspondence school).

The resolution of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the USSR entitled On Higher Correspondence Education (Aug. 29, 1938) established the nomenclature for the specialized courses within the correspondence educational system and a network of independent higher educational correspondence institutions; all higher educational correspondence institutions and divisions implemented the course system of instruction and compulsory examinations and tests; supplementary paid leaves from their places of employment were arranged for correspondence students. On Mar. 13, 1939, the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the USSR ratified the Statute on Correspondence Graduate School.

Correspondence education became an organic part of the general system of public education in the USSR, encompassing general educational, secondary specialized, and higher schools. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, in order to bring the general educational school as close as possible to working young people, a flexible system of general correspondence education was established; in addition to independent schools and their divisions, including specialized ones (for certain types of workers, such as railroad workers and sailors), curricular-consultation centers were set up, including tutorial groups, at day schools, as well as individual instruction for young people. During the 1960–61 academic year there were 275,600 persons enrolled in the system of general correspondence education (including 175,800 in grades nine to 11), 19,700 persons were graduated from the eight-year school, and 30,800 were graduated from secondary school. During the 1968–69 academic year the system of general correspondence education included 1,184,600 persons (including 802,100 in grades nine to 11); 140,000 were graduated from the eight-year school; and 161,200 were graduated from secondary school. In 1970 approximately 900 independent secondary general educational correspondence schools were in operation. With the introduction in the 1971–72 academic year of the Statute on the Evening (Shift) Secondary General Educational School, 813 raion schools with the correspondence form of instruction were reopened; the instruction of correspondence students was organized at 1,106 day schools (ordinarily requiring attendance); a supplementary 500 curricular-consultation centers were established; and the total number of correspondence students reached 1.2 million.

The correspondence training of specialists is carried out by means of a network of independent secondary and higher educational institutions as well as branch institutions and study and consultation centers organized by them at the largest enterprises and construction sites, in addition to correspondence departments (divisions) at permanent higher educational institutions and technicums. As an aid to those wishing to obtain an education without interrupting their work, general technical departments have been set up at higher educational institutions, which permit students to at-tend evening classes during the first three years and then to elect to continue their education either by correspondence or by attendance at an institution of higher education. The extensive network of branch institutions, study and consultation centers, general technical departments, and so forth al-lows workers to obtain an education regardless of their place of residence or the location of the educational institution.

The correspondence system of education carries out the training of specialists in most of the fields of specialization within the system of higher and secondary specialized education (255 in 1970). Programs and textbooks, as a rule, are the same for day-attendance, evening, and correspondence systems of education. Methodological instructions for independent work on curricular subjects are published for correspondence students, as well as supplementary material to the textbooks; classes are broadcast over radio and television; and special teaching films are created. Various technological means of instruction are being increasingly utilized in correspondence education.

Higher and secondary specialized educational correspondence institutions (departments and divisions) have adopted the subject-course system of instruction.

For correspondence students who live at the site where the correspondence education institution (department, division, or study and consultation center) is located, a combined day-attendance and correspondence system has been organized, lectures are delivered during the course of the academic year, consultation centers are available, and laboratory and other practical work is carried out in the student’s major area of specialization.

An important place in the system of correspondence education is occupied by the work of the students in their major field, along with the curricular programs they are studying. The system of correspondence education makes it possible for specialists to upgrade their qualifications—to acquire a second, related field of specialization or to gain a new one. (In such a case, certain subjects passed previously may be taken into account, if their scope satisfies the requirements of the new major; this would permit graduation from the educational institution in a shorter period of time.) Persons who obtain a higher or a specialized secondary education within the system of correspondence education are awarded standard diplomas and are given qualifications that are universally accepted in the USSR.

Higher and secondary specialized educational correspondence institutions (departments and divisions) accept all citizens of the USSR without age limitations; the higher educational institutions take those who have the statutory general or specialized secondary education, whereas the technicums (technical schools) accept those who have finished the eight-year or secondary general education school upon condition that they pass the entrance exams. Preference in enrollment is granted to those who have experience in the field of specialization that they have chosen (or a related field) within the educational institution. In accordance with Resolution No. 720 of the Council of Ministers of the USSR of July 2, 1959, students of higher educational correspondence institutions (departments or divisions) and of secondary specialized educational correspondence institutions and general education schools are to be granted supplementary annual paid leaves from their places of employment.

In 1971 the USSR had 16 independent correspondence higher educational institutions and 46 secondary specialized educational institutions, 582 correspondence divisions (departments) in higher educational day institutions, and 2,122 in secondary specialized educational institutions. During the 1970–71 academic year 283,600 persons were accepted for correspondence instruction at higher educational institutions, and 341,700 persons at secondary specialized educational institutions; there were 682,000 persons enrolled as correspondence students at higher educational institutions and 1,185,000 persons at secondary specialized educational institutions. In 1970, within the correspondence education system, 213,900 persons received a higher education, and 269,100 persons received a secondary specialized education.

There are ten independent correspondence higher educational institutions at the all-Union level, including the Polytechnical Institute (founded in 1932), Machine-building Institute (1936), Food Industry Institute (1953), Textile and Light Industry Institute (1932), Construction Engineering Institute (1944), Institute of Railroad Transport Engineers (1951), Institute of Electrical Engineering and Communications (1937), Juridical Institute (1932), and Institute of Finance and Economics (1930), all of which are located in Moscow, as well as the Agricultural Institute of Correspondence Education (founded in 1930; Balashika, Moscow Oblast). Others include the Northwestern Polytechnical Institute (1929, Leningrad), the Ukrainian Polytechnical Institute (1958, Kharkov), the Moscow Pedagogical Institute (1951), and the Correspondence Institute of Soviet Trade (1937, Moscow).

Independent secondary specialized educational correspondence institutions include 18 at the all-Union level.

The training of scholarly scientific and pedagogical staffs through correspondence graduate work has also been developed, as has a system for upgrading qualifications among specialists by means of correspondence education (with periods of study ranging from a few months to two years) who already possess higher and secondary specialized education. As of 1970, correspondence graduate work was functioning in 551 higher educational institutions, including nine all-Union correspondence institutes. The right to receive candidates’ dissertations for defense has been granted to the All-Union Polytechnical Correspondence Institute, the All-Union Agricultural Institute of Correspondence Education, and the Northwestern Polytechnical Correspondence Institute. In 1970 there were 44,400 persons enrolled in correspondence graduate work (of these, 20,600 were in higher educational institutions).

A system of higher and secondary specialized correspondence education also exists in other socialist countries (the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and others), and it is constructed in accordance with the national economy’s need for specialists. For example, the GDR has established independent higher and secondary specialized educational correspondence institutions. In many of Hungary’s higher educational institutions correspondence divisions have been created; the most widespread form is the higher education by correspondence for specialists possessing a secondary specialized education. Czechoslovakia has adopted a system of correspondence education in educational institutions at various levels.

In the capitalist countries, correspondence education is carried out at state and private educational institutions. Diplomas received in specialized majors within the system of correspondence education, as a rule, are valued lower than diplomas obtained at day-attendance educational institutions. In the USA there are divisions of higher educational institutions that graduate students with a bachelor’s degree; some colleges have divisions that award high school equivalency diplomas; there are also courses for acquiring new skills, for filling in gaps in a certain field of knowledge, for providing cultural improvement, and so forth. At certain higher educational institutions examinations are taken only after one-fourth of the curriculum is completed and at others, after one-half. For the rest of the curriculum the correspondence student, if he wishes to obtain a diploma, must complete his studies at a regular institution or else attend several summer residential sessions and after this take the final examination.

In 1969, Japan had 199 educational institutions with correspondence instruction (650,000 students). The system of correspondence education is directed and subsidized by the Ministry of Education. The most important correspondence educational institutions are the Higher Correspondence Technical School, which has more than 150 study and consultation centers at enterprises throughout the country, and the Gaukan Higher Correspondence School, with 75 consultation centers and an enrollment of about 20,000 students.

In Great Britain, Oxford and other universities have divisions of correspondence education. Each year approximately 20,000 persons enroll in technical correspondence institutes. In Canada during 1968 correspondence education was being carried out at 13 universities, four technological institutes, and many private schools. The enrollment in the correspondence educational system amounted to 126,600 persons, including about 23,000 in universities and institutes. Correspondence education has also been organized in France, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, India, Australia, and a number of other countries.

International conferences on correspondence education, organized by the International Council on Correspondence Education (held under the auspices of UNESCO), are held periodically. Participating in the work of the 1969 conference, which was held in Paris, were representatives from 30 countries, including the USSR.


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