PTU

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PTU (ПТУ, пэ-тэ-у́) is acronym for Russian professional`no-tehnicheskoye uchilische (профессиона́льно-техни́ческое учи́лище) – a Soviet vocational education facility aimed to train qualified industrial workers and servicemen. Such schools are widespread in all post-Soviet countries (usually in every city). English users in the region often interprete PTU literally as a vocational-technical school.

PTUs form a government-funded nation-wide system for school graduates who don`t intend (or dare intellectually) to receive a university degree (see "Secondary education"). Instead, they are both educated generally and trained for non-academic occupations. PTU were specializing in almost all such professions, but the most spread are for construction and machinery positions. Specializations also included secretary (girls only), cook, waiter and even mosaic artist (needed drawing talents to apply). Typical entering age of students is 15 – after 8 classes of ordinary school, usual background — peasants, lower working class, orphans etc.

PTUs required no entering examination, provided with free hostels and meals. Parents were also attracted by the 24-hour presence of “upbringers” – mentors whose task is to prevent students from deviative behavior. Further employment was also guaranteed. That is why PTUs played an important role in urbanizing rural communities and forming Soviet working class (see Urbanization). Society widely associates PTUs and their students with lower class and its negative attributes: bad manners, low educational level and alcoholism. But these schools were unbeatable form of mass education, employment and distracting youth from crime.

During transformation to market economy, PTUs suffered a huge blow since their graduates lost socialist employment guarantees. Many of PTUs were closed or merged and the number of students declined dramatically. Some PTUs were renamed and reformed into "academies" or "colleges" in attempt to gain higher status and establish tuition fees.

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