Monday, August 6, 2007

ABC for everyone!

Do you help to eliminate illiteracy? Join “Down with illiteracy” Society!

Unknown artist, 1925

Russia has always been an agricultural state - before the October Revolution is was one of the biggest grain suppliers in the world. The landlords were not interested in educating of its peasants, because it would result in flow-outs to the cities.

So illiteracy was everywhere, and it were the Bolsheviks, who started global educational programs after the October Revolution. In 1919 the “Elimination of Illiteracy” decree was signed by Vladimir Lenin. The payment for education was abolished once and for all, and those refusing to enter the elementary schools were subject to prosecution. Everyone from 8 to 50 years old had to learn reading and writing either in Russian or in their native language. Lenin knew, that his revolutionary ideas could be understood only by educated people, so elemental education became obligatory for every soviet citizen.

In 1923 the society “Down with illiteracy” was founded. The funding was ample, so general census of 1926 showed twofold increase in literate population – up to 60% of the soviet nation. And by the census of 1939 the literate population reached 90%, which was a great achievement, indeed.

The poster above is dated 1925. It asks rhetorical question “Do you help to eliminate illiteracy?” and invites people to join the “Down with illiteracy” Society. The left margin contains one of the Vladimir Lenin’s maxims: “We should celebrate the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution with final victory over illiteracy”.

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