Ancient Rus was one of the early feudal states and held a leading place in the world history. The Slavonic written language came to Rus from Bulgaria in the 9th century. Towards the end of this century the replacement of religious books in Greek for those in the Slavonic language began.
Between the 10th and 13th centuries Russians developed a high civilization, which formed the foundation of the Russian culture in the following centuries. During this period numerous cultural treasures were accumulated. The written works of the time show that the level of knowledge on most natural phenomena was as high as that of Ancient Greece.
Monasteries were cultural and educational centres. They had large libraries and well-equipped book-making shops, in which not only church manuscripts were copied and translated but original books were written, Today we can confidently say that Ancient Rus was a state of high culture and knowledge.
In pre-revolutionary Russia there was a network of primary schools for common people. Nevertheless illiteracy among common people was very high. Well-off people taught their children in grammar schools, commercial schools or secondary schools teaching no classics.2
There were also schools for nobles only. Entrance to those schools was limited. For example, at lyceum where A.S. Pushkin studied the number of pupils ranged from thirty to one hundred. Only boys at the age of 10 or 12 from noble families of high rank were admitted and studied there for six years. They were taught many different subjects. The most important were Russian literature, history, geography, mathematics, physics, logic, law, rhetoric and such foreign languages as French, English, German and Latin. Great attention was paid to different arts and physical training. riding, swimming, fencing and dancing. The aim of this school was to bring up intelligent people in the broad sense of the word. Those who graduated from such educational institutions usually entered the service of their country to realize their abilities and knowledge to the benefit of their state.
The history of higher education in Russia goes back to 1755 when the first University was founded in Moscow on the initiative of M.V. Lomonosov and in accordance with his plan. Later, universities were opened in many other big cities of the country.
After the revolution in 1917, education was guaranteed to the Soviet citizens by the Constitution and was free of charge, including higher education. Teaching at schools was carried out almost in all national languages. The system of education was the same throughout the country.
School attendance was compulsory for those between 7 and 15. Those who completed their secondary education and passed entrance examinations to higher education establishments received monthly grants if they did not fail in the examinations that they took at the end of each term. Higher school education lasted five years.
In 1991 the former fifteen republics of the Soviet Union became independent states. The Russian Federation, the biggest and the most powerful of them began to develop as a democratic state. From the very start democratic reforms began to take place in many fields of life. Changes in political, economic and social conditions required changes in the system of education. Its aim is to prepare the growing generation for independent life and work in new conditions.
New curriculums were introduced in schools such as “The World Around Us” for younger students and “Fundamentals of Information Science and Computer Engineering”, “Ethics and Psychology of Family Life” for senior students. Along with state schools where education is free of charge there appeared many private schools, colleges, lycees,3 gymnasiums and different courses where students can study sciences and humanities including foreign languages.
At some schools the leavers are sent abroad to continue their education at Sorbonne in Paris, at the Universities of Great Britain, Germany, USA and other countries.
After graduating from those Universities they return to their country to work in different fields of national economy.
A former student of a Russian school said on his return home.
“I was surprised how much there is in common between Russian and Western young people – their love for entertainments and the same kind of music and their wish to know everything new. I hope there will be time when young people from abroad will also come to our country to study.
Such exchanges of students will undoubtedly result in better understanding among people which in its turn will bring greater stability to the whole world.”