Irina Gluschenko1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Soviet Enlightenment Project: Eradication of Illiteracy among Adults in the 1920s‑1930s

2015. No. 3. P. 246–282 [issue contents]

Irina Gluschenko - Candidate of Sciences in Theory and Cultural History, Associate Professor, School of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities, National Research University—Higher School of Economics. Address: 20 Myasnitskaya str., 101000, Moscow, Russian Federation. E-mail: ultra-irina@mail.ru

We analyze the Soviet campaign to eradicate illiteracy among adults in the 1920s‑1930s. A comparison of educational and ideological aspects of this campaign demonstrates how closely they were related and how they formed new patterns of cultural behavior. We discuss methodological regulations and decrees of the Soviet government, as well as printed press, study guides, and ABC books. They reveal how entire social strata not only learned to read and to write but also familiarized themselves with (and shaped, to some extent) the new «lingua Sovietica» in the course of the campaign. This new language allowed people to communicate with authorities and to achieve their specific goals through playing with official notions and terms. The soviet approach was specific not just in that education was brought together with solving ideological and upbringing problems but in that it was a totally deliberate and transparent process. Eradication of illiteracy in the Soviet Union was accompanied by radical changes to the way people lived and worked, which resulted in immediate demand for and utilization of the skills they acquired. That was the key to success of the Soviet illiteracy eradication campaign. None of the countries that used the Soviet scheme in their enlightenment projects cold replicate this success, as people were taught literacy with the traditional social relationships being preserved. As a result, knowledge was distributed much slower and population often lost their newly-acquired skills quickly.

Citation: Gluschenko I. (2015) Sovetskiy prosvetitel'skiy proekt: likvidatsiya negramotnosti sredi vzroslykh v 1920–1930‑e gody [Soviet Enlightenment Project: Eradication of Illiteracy among Adults in the 1920s‑1930s]. Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no3, pp. 210-246.