Rabfaks and Higher Education

Mikhail Pokrovskii, Regarding Organization of Workers’ Faculties at Universities. September 11, 1919


Opening higher education to everyone as a means of “proletarianizing” the universities floundered on the poor preparation of the new applicants. To remedy this special “workers’ faculties” (rabfaky) were created, usually attached to a university. These were to provide a course of study preparing workers to compete successfully in the universities alongside youth of intelligentsia background. This was deemed important both to provide educated cadres for the new order and to change the political and social outlook of the universities, both students and faculty. The debate over how best to promote working class participation in higher education lasted for years, but the commitment to that goal and the use of this kind of special preparatory school remained a feature of educational policies.

Original Source: Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporiazhenii rabochego i krestian’skogo pravitel stva, 1919, No. 45, pp. 443, 487-488.

For the purpose of making it possible for workers and peasants to actually and extensively exercise their right to matriculate in higher educational institutions, and taking into consideration that inadequate preparedness of the proletarian mass for study within the walls of higher schools, especially in subjects of exact knowledge (mathematics, physics, chemistry and others), serves as an obstacle to the use of this right, the board of the Department of Higher School Affairs resolves to open preparatory courses at universities of the Republic. These will be autonomous remedial training institutions whose purpose is to prepare workers and peasants in the shortest possible time for higher education; they will be tided “Workers Faculties.”

1. Workers’ faculties are under the immediate jurisdiction of the Department of Higher Schools.

2. Workers’ faculties exercise all the rights of a faculty and have their own representation in all collectives and presidiums of a higher learning institution.

3. Workers’ faculties have the right, under their own responsibility, to use all equipment, materials and other educational supplies for physics, chemistry and other classrooms, laboratories, and practicums of the higher learning institution.

4. A higher learning institution, in the distribution of space and the establishment of its own schedules, is obligated to satisfy workers’ faculties’ demands for classrooms, offices, laboratories, and practicums, giving them enough to insure the widest possible development of their activity and giving them full opportunity to organize centralized classes.

5. Workers’ faculties operate according to programs and plans approved by the Scientific Section in agreement with the Professional Education Section.

Note. Workers’ faculties exercise the right to create projects, programs and plans.

6. Teaching personnel are invited by the workers’ faculty and are approved by the Scientific Section.

Note 1. Until approval the workers’ faculty may permit temporary employment of teachers.

Note 2. The absence of a response from the Scientific Section within a month is equivalent to confirmation.

7. Workers’ faculties are financed by the Department of Higher Schools according to a special estimate, worked out by workers’ faculties.

8. Internal organizations of workers’ faculties must provide for the broadest and most active participation by students in deciding all questions of both educational and economic administrative nature.

9. The faculty council is the leading organ which decides all questions concerning the workers’ faculties. It elects a faculty secretary and, as an executive organ, a presidium consisting of a presiding chairman and two members-his assistants.

Note 1. The presidium is confirmed by the Department of Higher Schools. Lack of response within a month is equivalent to confirmation.

Note 2. Until confirmation, the presidium enters into temporary execution of its responsibilities.

10. The council of the workers’ faculty consists of teachers conducting classes for the department and representatives from; 1) the students; 2) the council of the higher educational institution; 3) communist student faction of the institution; 4) local proletarian organizations; 5) the local Department of People’s Education and 6) the support personnel of the faculty.

Note. The number of representatives from the students must be no less than the number of teachers entering the council of the workers’ faculty from the collectives and organizations listed in items 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, by one representative.

11. Students of the workers’ faculties enjoy all the rights of students of higher learning institutions and have social security.

12. Workers and peasants who can produce, either from a factory commission or a communist cell, certification that they are members of the peasant or working class, do not exploit another’s labor, and that they stand on the platform of Soviet power, will be accepted as students.

13. All higher learning institutions have the obligation to open workers’ faculties no later than November 1, for which they will organize, within two weeks after publication of this resolution, a temporary bureau of three people with temporary assignment to them of all the rights of a faculty council. This will consist of one representative from the department of higher schools or the local Department of Peoples’ Education, and two representatives of the council of the higher learning institution, reorganized according to the July 7, 1919 enactment (1 chosen from professors and instructors, 1 from student representatives who belong to the learning institution council). (Collection of Laws, 1919, No. 35, st. 347). The higher learning institution must bring the opening of a faculty to the attention of the Department of Higher Schools.

14. Bureau members receive a salary set by the council of the higher learning institution and dependent upon local conditions. The pay for bureau members’ work and all organization expenditures is provided by the higher learning institution, for which the latter requests a special advance.

15. Preparation courses for workers and peasants at higher education institutions, located at the First Moscow University, are recognized as workers’ faculties operating on the basis of the current enactment.

Signed: Director of the Department of Higher Learning Institutions
Mikhail Pokrovskii

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