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the traditional name for the main stage of educational systems of most countries. The term arose as education became differentiated into primary, secondary, and higher levels; toward the late Middle Ages it came to refer to the intermediate stage between primary and higher (university) education in connection with the development of industry, science, and culture. The system of secondary education that took form during the 15th and 16th centuries was called classical education; Gymnasiums were the principal type of educational institutions. In the 18th century, Realschule education, provided mainly by Realschulen, also developed. In the 19th and early 20th centuries these systems of education were adopted by most countries. In prerevolutionary Russia, general secondary education was provided primarily by Gymnasiums, Realschulen, and commercial schools.
Secondary education may be general or specialized. General secondary education provides systematized knowledge of the fundamentals of various subjects. It also teaches the abilities and skills necessary for work in various areas of the nation’s economy, culture, and everyday life and for obtaining a specialized education in vocational-technical, secondary, and higher educational institutions. General secondary education is provided in secondary general-education schools. In the USSR and some other countries, it is also provided in vocational-technical educational institutions together with vocational training and in specialized secondary educational institutions as a prerequisite for obtaining a specialty.
Specialized secondary education consists of general secondary education and a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge and vocational skills and abilities in a given specialty.
The content and tasks of general and specialized secondary education vary according to the requirements of social production and are influenced by social relations, the state of science, technology, and culture, and the level of public education and pedagogy. In the USSR and other socialist countries, universal secondary education, in close connection with communist upbringing, has as its goal the overall development of the individual. In the capitalist countries, secondary education is class-oriented and permeated by bourgeois ideology; in many of these countries it is inaccessible to the broad masses of the working people.
E. O. KONOKOTIN