Soviet Union Table of Contents
Soviet society generally held the teaching profession in high esteem, continuing the long prerevolutionary tradition, although teacher's salaries were not commensurate in this regard. With starting pay as low as 140 to 150 rubles per month (compared with the average worker's salary of 200 rubles), teacher's salaries, especially at the primary and secondary school levels, were on the lower rungs of the pay scale. The most common Western explanation for this disparity was the preponderance of women in the field. In 1987 nearly three-fourths of the more than 2.6 million secondary school teachers and school directors were women. Among secondary school teachers, 77.7 percent had completed higher education, 16.3 percent had completed secondary school teacher training, 3.5 percent had completed a portion of their higher education, and 2.5 percent had completed specialized or general secondary education.
In the 1986-87 school year, more than 2 million students were enrolled in teacher training programs in about 400 specialized secondary-school teachers' schools and more than 200 pedagogical institutes. Teacher training focused on the chosen specialty; a significant amount of time was devoted to the study of Marxism-Leninism, as well as courses in education and applied psychology. Because the university curriculum included courses in teaching methodology, university graduates also often taught upperlevel secondary grades.
The salaries and prestige of teachers at universities, institutions of higher learning, and specialized secondary schools were considerably higher than those of general secondary-school teachers. About 750,000 professors and instructors, of whom only about one-third were women, belonged to this elite group of professionals.
Data as of May 1989