Liquidation of Illiteracy. January 29, 1919
Original Source: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov po istorii SSSR sovetskogo perioda (1917-1958 gg.) (Moscow: Izd. Moskovskogo universiteta, 1966), p. 175.
For the purpose of giving the entire population of the Republic the opportunity for conscious participation in the country’s political life, the Council of People’s Commissars has decreed:
1. Everyone in the Republic from ages 8 to 50 who is unable to read or write is obligated to learn how to read and write in Russian, or in their native language, according to their choice. Instruction is given in government schools both existing and those instituted for the illiterate population according to the plan of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment.
Note. This activity applies to Red Army men, with the corresponding work in military units taking place with the closest participation of the Red Army and Fleet political departments.
2. The date for liquidation of illiteracy is established by the province and city soviets as appropriate. General plans for liquidation of illiteracy locally are to be formulated by organs of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment within two months after the publication of the current decree.
3. The People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment and its local organs are given the right to recruit, for teaching the illiterate, the country’s entire literate population which has not been called to war, as a labor responsibility. Payment is to be made according to the educational worker norm.
4. The People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment and its local organs recruit all organizations of the working population (namely trade unions, local Russian Communist Party cells, the Communist Youth League, commissions for work among women, and others) to participate directly in the work of liquidating illiteracy.
5. For those learning to read and write who are working at hourly wages, excluding those occupied at militarized enterprises, the work day is abbreviated by two hours for instruction, with the same wages.
6. For the liquidation of illiteracy the organs of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment are allowed to use People’s Houses, churches, clubs, private homes, appropriate rooms at plants, factories and Soviet institutions, etc.
7. Supply departments are charged with the responsibility to satisfy the needs of those institutions whose goal is to liquidate illiteracy before satisfying the needs of other institutions.
8. Those deviating from the obligations established by the current decree and those hindering the illiterate from attending schools are held criminally responsible.
9. The People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment is charged with publishing instructions regarding application of the current decree within a two week period.