I'm looking for some statistics (and I know this may not even exist) about education rates in pre-revolutionary Russian society (by pre-revolutionary I'm looking for between 1890 and 1917). Someone may have come across them somewhere, but I'm basically trying to get evidence to support the notion that education rates in the aforementioned era gradually increased.

1 Answer 1


There is a dedicated article in the Russian segment of Wikipedia and its part is dedicated almost exactly to the period you are (or were at the time the question was asked) interested in Education in the Russian Empire (in Russian)

It is rather large to translate it completely, so let me translate only those parts which have references to some statistical data.

In 1894 the Committee of Literacy made a research which found that there were 60592 "specialized schools" and "literacy schools" (I don't know what are the correct terms for these in English) with 2,970,066 students in them at the time in Russia.

The Census of 1897 found:

  • 21% of literate population (those who were able to read and write) altogether in the empire

  • 22.9% of literate in the European part of Russia except Poland and the Caucasus

  • 70-80% of literate in the Baltic provinces

  • 55% in the St. Petersburg province

  • 40% in the Moscow province

  • 42% in the Kovno province

  • 36% in the Yaroslavl' province

  • less than 30% of literate in remaining provinces of the European part of the empire.

Funds for the system of education were raised mainly via donations and zemstvos (a zemstvo in Wikipedia).

In 1903 the amount of money for upkeep of elementary schools was c. 59 million roubles (30.1 million from zemstvos, "rural and urban" societies, 15.8 million from the state coffers, 13 million from donations, payments for education and other sources).

In 1903 there were 87,973 schools of all types and agencies and 5,088,029 students in them (I suppose this is what you were looking for).

From 1894 to 1904 loans for education doubled, the budget of the "Ministry of Enlighment" (this is a literal translation, more correct one can be the Ministry of Education) was increased from 22 to 42 million roubles, while loans for church schools increased from 2.5 to 13 million roubles. The amount of government's budget accommodations for "commercial real schools" (sorry, I don't know what these were) reached 2-3 million roubles annually. During those ten years accommodations for education from zemstvos and towns increased approximately at the same rate. All accommodations for education from the central government and local authorities reached over 100 million annually at this period (1894 to 1904).

On January 18, 1911 a one-day school census was conducted. It found:

  • 100295 real elementary schools for children from 8 to 12

  • at the day of the census there were 6 180 510 students at school (43% of all children from 8 to 12 at the time)

In 1914 there were 54 students for one thousand of people in the empire (for comparison in the US the number was 213 at the time).

According to Sorokin (Sociology of the Revolution, Moscow, 2008, pages 285-286) the budget of the Ministry of Education was 142,736,000 roubles, the total amount of expenses for education by all ministries was 280-300 million roubles. The same expenses from zemstvos and towns were up to 360 million roubles.

In 1914 the Russian Empire had 123,745 elementary educational institutions:

  • 80801 from the Ministry of Education
  • 40530 Orthodox church institutions
  • 2414 from another agencies

The coverage of children from 8 to 11 by the educational system was 30.1% (46.6% in cities and 28.3% in rural areas)

According to Statistical yearbook of Russia for 1915 (Petrograd, 1916, section 1, page 144) at January 1, 1914 there were 8,902,621 students in the empire. 82% of them were studying in elementary schools, 8% in universities.

  • 2
    Please stay and answer some more questions around here :)
    – kubanczyk
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 21:23
  • Absolutely brilliant answer!! Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 0:06

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