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MAINTENANCE OF AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS.
The most important government activity in agricultural education is that developed through the channels of the department of agriculture. A glance at the figures representing the annual disbursements of the State for this purpose gives a suggestion of the importance attached to agricultural education in Russia. The following table shows that the increase in the government provision for agricultural schools controlled by the department was 2,010,880 rubles within the period 1907–1911, and that it progressed yearly as follows:
The few agricultural schools coming within the province of the ministry of public instruction are classified as technical. With the exception of some scanty references, no separate data for them can be gathered from the official reports. It will be interesting, however, to note the relative importance of the educational activity of the department of agriculture as shown by the following comparison: The entire amount contributed by the treasury toward the maintenance of the technical schools under the supervision of the ministry of public instruction amounted to 2,689,907.67 rubles in 1912. This total included nearly one and a half million rubles expended on higher technological institutes; it also included a certain amount corresponding to the expenditure for several agricultural schools. The department of agriculture in 1911 expended 3,884,351 rubles for agricultural schools alone.
SECONDARY AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION.
Admission of students.--There are at the present time 15 secondary agricultural schools in Russia. This number appears far too small to meet the popular demand. At the beginning of every year there is an enormous number of applicants, exceeding the number of vacancies, so that pupils must be accepted by competitive examination. The preparation required of these competitors is equal to the first two years of gymnasium or a full course of primary two-class schools.
1 Report of the minister of public instruction for 1912; see Bibliography.
Social class of students.--Because of lower tuition fees these schools attract the children of peasants and other poor classes in a larger proportion than the other secondary schools. By the latest available statistics, the percentage of pupils, according to social classes in the several agricultural schools is as follows:
It must be explained that the percentage of children of peasants and working classes in other secondary schools in Russia is comparatively low. According to official figures, quoted by the minister of public instruction in his report for 1912, 32.7 per cent or nearly one-third of the gymnasium pupils are scions of the nobility, while another third is composed of the sons of men ranking high in the social scale. Only 27.1 per cent of the pupils are children of burghers and artisans.
This tends to show how really democratic is the agricultural school in Russia in comparison with other divisions of secondary education.
Free scholarships.—While as a rule the pupils of the secondary schools are required to pay nominal tuition fees, the poorer children are aided by scholarships from various private foundations and from government provisions for that purpose. The number of beneficiaries is naturally limited by the amount of available funds. Those who desire to obtain a free education must not only prove that they are poor, but also show by their good behavior and excellent progress in studies that they are deserving.
In the four secondary agricultural schools whose printed reports are available the relation of the number of students with scholarships to the total number of students is as follows:
Number of students..
Statistics.—Preliminary to considering the operations of this important class of agricultural schools it will be well to have in mind
certain salient facts regarding them which may best be shown by the · latest official statistics as summarized in the following tables:
SECONDARY AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS.
The following table gives a detailed view of the different sources contributing to the maintenance of secondary agricultural schools in Russia:
SOURCES OF MAINTENANCE OF SECONDARY AGRICULTURAL
SCHOOLS IN RUSSIA.
(Compiled from official statistics of the Department of Agriculture, 1909.)
Courses of study.-The course of study for the secondary agricultural schools covers six years, the sixth year being almost entirely
devoted to practical occupations and work in experimental fields. The following is a typical program, that of the Don Agricultural School, as printed in the report of the school for the year 1911:
Third year :
1 1 1
NSW NAS NO
Hours Sixth year:
The general subjects taught in the secondary agricultural schools have nearly the same scope as in the gymnasia. Absence of Latin and Greek is a noteworthy feature. Much stress is laid on the German language which, owing to the scarcity of Russian scientific and technical literature, is an indispensable means of thorough technical education in any branch.
Practical training. The most interesting subjects are those relating to the special or practical occupations of the students. Some of the schools have issued very complete and coherent reports, and from these it is possible to reconstruct the agricultural school life in all its phases.
Alnost all these institutions belong to the type of boarding schools, and the occupations of students throughout the day are determined by school rules. Even the vacation time is utilized for different farm occupations which meet the natural inclination of growing boys toward activity and physical exercise and are in no way oppressive.
The report of the Kherson Agricultural School for 1911 gives the following information on the practical occupations of students during the year:
During the year the practical occupations of the students consisted of work in the field and about the farm with a view to acquiring skill in the work and in handling agricultural machines and implements.
During the year the students performed the following work: Plowing, harrowing, sowing by machines, and operating harvesters and machine rakes. They also cut hay and grain with scythes, carted it off, and stored it. They worked at threshing machines, sorted grain, cultivated crops by hoeing, interplowing, and mulching, attended to young forest plantings, cleaned the cattle yard twice daily and curried the cows, prepared feed and fed it to the animals. They also attended in turns to the business affairs of the farm and to raising live stock.
During the school year, that is, from September 1 to the date of the examinations for promotion, the grades took their daily turns in field work by the following scheme: Monday, sixth grade; Tuesday, fifth grade; Wednesday, fourth grade; Thursday, third grade; Friday, second grade; Saturday, first grade.
From the date of the examination, May 5, the students worked on the plan of practical occupations, usually two or three grades at a time. The students of the remaining grades studied geodesy, botany, zoology, entomology, agricultural mechanics, and other subjects, or they worked in the orchard, truck garden, or apiary.
The students of the sixth grade do not take part in the summer occupations, because immediately after the examinations they depart to different model farms for practice.
The period of summer occupations lasted until the completion of thrashing. The students were released for summer vacations on July 20.
During the school year the farm occupations of the students begin at 8.30 a, m. and continue until 1.30 p. m., with a 40-minute interval for lunch, from 11.20 to 12 o'clock. After dinner the students work from 3 p. m. to 5 or 6 p. m., according to the time of the sunset. In the summer the work is carried on according to the following plan: Rising in the morning--
5.30 a. m. Morning prayer and tea.
6.00 a. m. Beginning work.--.
6.30 a. m. Breakfast
9.00 a. m. Work.--
9.30 a. m. to 11.30 a. m. Dinner and rest_
11.30 a. m. to 3.30 p. m. Work.
4.00 p. m. to 7.30 p. m. Evening tea and supper-
8.00 p. m. Assignment of work for the next day.
8.30 p. m. Prayer---
9.10 p. m. The supervision of the students' work and rating it belongs to the farm manager and his aid-the farmer. Every night the farm manager apportions the work among the students whose turn it is to work the next day. In this he is guided by the following considerations: (1) That students assigned for the same kind of work be equal in age and physical development; (2) the number of students to do a given work must be large enough to complete the work assigned to them in one day without excessive fatigue; (3) the individual groups of students should not be scattered in the field, but work in proximity to one