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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Educating Communist Cadres: School Re-Entry and Sponsored Educational Mobility in State Socialism

  • Author(s): Kreidl, Martin
  • et al.

This paper analyzes the participation of vocational school graduates in further education in socialist Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. Students at vocational secondary schools did not acquire a complete secondary education equivalent to that offered at academic and professional high schools. Therefore, they were formally ineligible to enroll in tertiary education. However, previous analyses have shown that about 16% of all apprentices continued their education after completing vocational training and thus had a chance to attain a secondary-school diploma, and were even eligible to obtain a college education. The main question I pose in this text is: who were the apprentices that re-entered school after completing their vocational training? Were they people selected, primarily on the basis of political criteria and loyalty to the communist regime, to form the working-class cadres, or were they children from politically disloyal families who for political reasons could not follow the regular educational career and after completing their vocational training went on to study at schools they had been barred from entering immediately after completing elementary education? The analysis reveals that non-standard education was a mechanism of sponsored mobility utilized by the Communist Parties to promote loyal working class youth to become future supervisors, administrators, and/or managers.

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