V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written on June 8 (21), 1913
Published: Published on June 13, 1913 in Pravda No. 134. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: N..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 258-259.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

An interesting congress opened at Kharkov yesterday, June 12. It is interesting in two respects. For one thing, it is the first general Zemstvo congress on the statistics of public education. And then it has been honoured by particular attention on the part of the authorities. The chairman of the congress has been appointed by the authorities, and the specialists have been “screened”, as B.  Veselovsky puts it in Russkoye Slovo, also by the authorities. No representatives of the press have been allowed to attend the congress.

These measures—which even from the “Russian” point of view seem to be unduly, let us say, prudent—can hardly be explained by the fact that the congress meets in one of the Ukrainian centres. This Zemstvo congress will be attended not only by Ukrainian statisticians and Zemstvo officials,[1] but also by men in this field who come from all the nationalities of Russia.

The subject of the congress is apparently not to the liking of the authorities, although the only item on the agenda will be the organisation of statistics, what has been done, why too little has been done, while more should be done, and better.

Public education lags more in Russia than anywhere else in the world. Duma deputy Badayev pointed out in his speech that even among the American Negroes there are only 44 per cent illiterates—in Europe it is 1 or 2 per cent— whereas in Russia 79 per cent are illiterate!

However, despite a thousand obstacles, public education has lately been growing and developing faster than before. To know the truth about the state of education is the direct   and most vital interest of the masses of the people in general, and the workers in particular.

It would not be at all difficult to organise the public education statistics on European lines. Every teacher could easily report every year the required information about every pupil (age, nationality, family conditions, economic condition of parents, etc.) and about every teacher ( education, salary, working day, nationality and so forth). A small number of statisticians, annually processing such data, could provide the state with most abundant and valuable material, both on the conditions in which the young generation is being brought up and educated, and on a number of aspects of popular life, ... if ... if .... But representatives of the press have not been admitted to the Kharkov congress, its chairman has been appointed, its specialists, as B. Veselovsky tells us in Russkoye Slovo, have been screened by the authorities.

I’m afraid we’ve been a trifle silly with this talk of European-style statistics of education. Europe is something we can only dream of! We would do well to keep silent.


[1] The Zemstvos were local self-government bodies dominated by landed nobility in the central gubernias of tsarist Russia, first set up in 1864. They had jurisdiction only of local economic matters (hospitals, roads, statistics, insurance, etc.) and were under the Governor and the Ministry of the Interior, which could revoke any undesirable decisions.

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