Mennonite Board of Education (Molotschna, Ukraine)

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The Mennonite Board (Council) of Education (Schulrat), Russia, came into being in the Molotschna Mennonite settlement after the Agricultural Association, which had been established through Johann Cornies, had lost its leadership in matters pertaining to education. The Molotschna Mennonite Schulrat, approved by the Fürsorgekomitee at Odessa in 1869, consisted of four, later six, members, of whom at least one was a minister. The members were nominated by the Mennonite communities (the minister by the church). The Fürsorgekomitee approved the candidates. The Chortitza Board of Education (Zentralschulrat) was also established in 1869. Similar organizations functioned in some of the larger daughter settlements.

The Schulrat inspected schools, conducted two teachers' conferences annually, examined teaching candidates, and had general supervision of education. At the teachers' conferences curricula, methods, textbooks, etc., were discussed. Lectures and teaching demonstrations were given. Minutes were kept at all meetings and the attendance was obligatory. The 60 schools of the Molotschna settlement were divided into some ten districts in each of which local teachers' conferences were held. Here local problems were presented and discussed in greater detail.

In 1871 the Fürsorgekomitee was discontinued and the Schulrat was placed under the Russian State Department of Education. Through this transfer gradually great difficulties arose, which became significant factors in causing the great emigration of 1874. Such men as Isaak Peters and Dietrich Gaeddert, leaders of the emigration movement, were also members of the Board.

Outstanding members of the Molotschna Schulrat were Philipp Wiebe, A. Voth 1869-1883, J. Klatt, and P. H. Heese 1884-1896. Many improvements were made during this time, especially on the level of elementary education. The Bible, generally used as a reader in elementary schools, was replaced by a German reader and a Bible history. Books on church history and a German grammar were produced. All books were written by Mennonite authors and were approved by the government. Secondary schools for girls were introduced (Mädchenschule) and teachers' training courses (Lehrerseminar) were added to some of the Zentralschulen mainly through the efforts of the Board. Many educators received medals of distinction and other honors from the State Department of Education.

From 1869 to 1905 the Chortitza Schulrat was mostly in the hands of two excellent educators, Heinrich Epp and A. A. Neufeld. The church elder of the Chortitza settlement was always a member of the Board, as was also the director of the Chortitza Zentralschule.

The Schulrat in general played a very significant role in raising the educational level among the Mennonites of Russia, particularly in view of the fact that it confronted almost insurmountable difficulties from the Russian government. The State Department of Education sometimes refused to appoint candidates and sought to be responsible for the inspection of the schools. Gradually the Schulrat consisted mostly of ministers who had permission to supervise and inspect religious and German instruction in the Mennonite schools. Under these conditions its influence and significance decreased, but the Mennonite Teachers' Association had meanwhile taken over its major functions.


Enns, D. P. "Mennonite Education in Russia." Mennonite Life 6 (July 1951): 28 ff.

Enns, D. P. "Die mennonitischen Schulen in Russland." Mennonitisches Jahrbuch (1950 Newton, Kansas, USA): 7 ff.

Braun, Peter. "Eduction System of the Mennonite Colonies in South Russia." Mennonite Quarterly Review 3 (July 1929): 175 ff.

Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911: 645 ff.

Froese, L. Das pädagogische Kultursystem der mennonitischen Siedlungsgruppe in Russland. Thesis at the University of Göttingen, privately mimeographed, 1949: 89 ff.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1957

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Krahn, Cornelius. "Mennonite Board of Education (Molotschna, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 21 Mar 2019.,_Ukraine)&oldid=143616.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1957). Mennonite Board of Education (Molotschna, Ukraine). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 March 2019, from,_Ukraine)&oldid=143616.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 591. All rights reserved.

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