Commissariat of Education, Decree on the State Commission of Education. November 29, 1917
By this decree, the Soviet government took control of the young educational apparatus created by the Provisional Government. It faced an appalling lack of resources, particularly for the worker and peasant children it planned to make into the first Soviet generation. Anatolii Lunacharskii was appointed first Commissar of Education, although he had few trained assistants to help him.
Original Source: Sbornik dekretov i postanovlenii rabochego i krestian’skogo pravitel’stva po narodnomu obrazovaniiu, s 28 oktiabria 1917 g. po 7 noiabria 1918 g. (Moscow, 1921), Vol. I, pp. 5-7.
Pending the calling of the Constituent Assembly, the general direction of work connected with people’s education, in so far as that education is to remain under the control of the central governments, will be entrusted to a State Commission of People’s Education, the representative and executive head of which will be the People’s Commissar.
In accordance with the decision of the Sovnarkom and the procedure established by the [Second] Congress of Soviets, all functions formerly discharged by the Minister of People’s Education and his assistants are now transferred to the Commission of People’s Education.
The Commission of Education is to be responsible for all its acts to the Central Executive Committee of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies.
The membership of the Commission will be as follows: 1. Chairman-People’s Commissar of Education. 2. Secretary of the Commission of People’s Education. 3. By election: two representatives of the Executive Committee of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies; two representatives of the Executive Committee of the All-Russian Congress of Peasants’ Deputies …; two from the All-Russian Teachers’ Union; one each from the Academic Union, the Central Bureau of Trade Unions, the All-Russian Center of Factory-Shop Committees, the Central Committee of the Petrograd Proletarian Cultural-Education Organizations (pending the formation of a similar All-Russian organ), the All-Russian Union of Cities, the All-Russian Zemstvo Union, the All-Russian Organization of Artists (when such comes into existence), the All-Russian Students’ Union (when it is established) and the State Commission of People’s Education.
4. By appointment from the Sovnarkom: fifteen persons, who will head departments: (1) universal literacy, (2) autonomous schools of university rank, (3) schools under the charge of the Ministry of Education (pending their transfer to the municipalities), (4) municipal schools, (5) pre-school education and child welfare, (6) adult education, (7) assistance to organizations aiming to educate class- consciousness, (8) science, (9) art, (10) finance, (11) statistics and experimental pedagogy, (12) technical schools and polytechnic education, (13) training of the teaching personnel, (14) school of medicine and hygiene, (15) school buildings.
The State Commission of People’s Education is not to assume the role of a central authority in the administration of educational institutions. On the contrary all schools must be taken charge of by local self -governments. Educational activity on the part of class-conscious workers’, soldiers’, and peasants’ organizations must have complete autonomy in relation to both the central government and municipalities. The business of the State Commission is to serve as a link and to aid in securing material, ideological, and moral support for municipal and private educational organizations, especially those undertaken by toilers and class-conscious workers.
The State Committee of Education which functioned from the beginning of the February revolution formulated a number of very valuable educational projects. That Committee was democratic in its membership and included experienced specialists. The State Commission will try to cooperate with that Committee and the Commissar of Education will call at once … a joint session.
A. V. Lunacharskii
People’s Commissar of Education
V. Ul’ianov (Lenin)
President of the Sovnarkom
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 201-202.