The USSR has universal secondary education. Does that mean the economy has reached such a stage of development that it needs only well-educated people?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

No, the country's economic level is not yet such that it requires a high level of education for every member of the labour force. Nevertheless, we have made compulsory secondary education a constitu­tional principle, and not for dramatic effect, either.

A good education enables a young person more quickly to adjust himself in public and economic life. For instance, Soviet sociologists have found that workers with a complete, ten-year secondary education master new techniques and technology almost twice as fast as those who went to work in a factory after the 6th or 7th grade. What's more, they are 5-10 times more often found among the in­novators. It would seem that the last few years at school couldn't matter that much. But they do.

And it's not that they give the teenagers narrow professional training; they give them a broader out­look and cultural background, and that makes it easier for young people to assimilate new ideas, to move ahead and search for better and more efficient methods of work. All that is particularly important in the age of the scientific and technical revolution.

In agriculture, as labour becomes more and more mechanised, there is less and less need for unskil­led labour. What it needs are people capable of handling modern machines and familiar with the fundamentals of agricultural science.

The changing structure of the Soviet economy brings in its wake new trades and professions. Scien­tists say that young people can learn new skills and improve skills rapidly if their general educational level is fairly high.

But doesn’t the government find it a costly under­taking to provide a broad outlook even to those who are engaged in physical labour and perhaps don't really need it? What profit can it bring society?

Well, if you look at it purely from the point of view of cash profit, it might look more like a loss. But from the social point of view the advantages are obvious. It makes for fuller self-expression of the individual, and opens new prospects not only for his all-round development, his physical and mor­al development, and advancement in his chosen career, but also for his social activity.

To enjoy and exercise the Constitutional right to participate in running the affairs of the country, a person has to possess not only professional know­ledge and training. He also needs a broad outlook and the ability to look at things from the point of view of the state. This he acquires at an early age thanks to the whole system of education and up­bringing in school.