Mining Schools (Горнопромышленныешколы, ГПШ), Mining Colleges (Горнопромышленныеучилища, ГПУ) and Special Mining Colleges (Специальныегорнопромышленныеучилища, СГПУ) have been founded by the Order of the Ministry of Labour Reserves of the USSR No.195 dated July 04, 1949 in accordance with the corresponding Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. This was in response to the concern of the Soviet government about poor management of industrial training in a number of Factory Schools (Школы фабрично-заводского обучения, ШФЗО), weak labour discipline of students as well as about low qualification of graduates posted to work at various enterprises of the Ministry of Coal Industry of the USSR. In addition, Factory Schools of the mining industry have not always been appropriately staffed, lacked qualified senior management and skilled teachers who obtained necessary professional knowledge.
Since 1949, Mining Schools and Mining Colleges were established on the basis of Industrial Schools (Ремесленные училища, РУ) that trained young workers for the Soviet mining industry. Training course at Mining Schools and Mining Colleges lasted, respectively, six months and two years.
As for the Special Mining Colleges, nine such institutions with training course lasting seven years have been created on the basis of the following seven Industrial Schools and two Factory Schools:
1. Industrial School No.2 (city of Lisichansk, Voroshilovrgad region, with “Lisichanskugol’” Trust as its base).
2. Industrial School No.2 (city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, Kemerovo region, “Leninugol’” Trust).
3. Industrial School No.4 (city of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk region, “Cheremkhovugol’” Trust).
4. Industrial School No.6 (workers’ township of Alexandrovsky, Molotov region, Voroshilov Alexandrovsky Machinery Plant).
5. Industrial School No.27 (township of Budyonovka, Stalino region, “Budyonovskugol’” Trust).
6. Industrial School No.27 (city of Karaganda, Karaganda region, “Kirovugol’” Trust).
7. Industrial School No.54 (city of Stalinogorsk, Moscow region, Stalin Chemical Plant).
8. Factory School No.1 (workers’ township of Kaganovich, Tula region, “Tovarkovugol’” Trust).
9. Factory School No.3 (city of Shakhty, Rostov region, “Shakhtantrazit” Trust).
Special Mining Colleges accepted male teenagers, mostly orphaned sons of miners, as well as sons of distinguished mining industry workers such as those bearing title of Honorary miner and miners disabled at work. Special Mining Colleges provided general secondary and professional mine technical education at the level of the Mining Technical School curriculum.
Distinctive insignia worn by students of Mining Schools and Mining Colleges on their uniforms, namely collar tabs and belt buckles (the latter were introduced for Mining Colleges only), were instituted by the Order of the Ministry of Labour Reserves of the USSR No.319 dated September 01, 1949. Centralized manufacture of ciphers, i.e. letters and digits, as well as buckles was mandated to the Trust of Manufacturing Plants which was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour Reserves of the USSR. As for the uniform worn by students, it remained the same as introduced for Industrial Schools and Factory Schools.
Belt buckles for students of Mining Colleges measuring 60x48 mm were manufactured of 1,5 mm thick nickel-plated steel. They bore inscription “Min. C.” (“Гор. П.У.”) in large-scale capital letters placed in two horizontal lines. Indisputable rarity of those buckles suggests that total number of pieces produced was quite small.
15 mm high capital letters and digits were fixed with prongs to black collar tabs with dark blue piping worn on overcoats and quilted jackets. Those ciphers were manufactured either of 0,36 mm thick white iron or of 0,4 mm thick polished or nickel-plated cold-rolled metal belt. Students of Mining Schools wore collar tabs bearing ciphers fixed in two lines: “MS” (“ГПШ”) above and number of the particular school below. As for the Mining Colleges’ students, their collar tabs sported ciphers attached in three horizontal lines, viz. “Min.” (“Гор”), then “C” (“ПУ”), and, finally, number of the particular college below.
By 1956, 190 Mining Schools and 53 Mining Colleges trained young mining workers in the USSR.
In accordance with the Law “On Strengthening the Link between School and Life and Further Development of the National Education System” dated December 24, 1958 (Chapter II, Article 14), Mining Schools and Mining Colleges have been transformed into either full-time and evening municipal Technical Training Schools (Профессионально-технические училища, ПТУ) with study period from one to three years or into rural Technical Training Schools with study period from one to two years. Reorganization had to be performed within three to five years depending on local peculiarities of economic administrative regions. Thus, insignia described above was worn by students of Mining Schools and Mining Colleges since 1949 until the beginning of 1960s.
The author thanks Dr.Leonid Tokar (Saint Petersburg, Russia), a renowned expert on Soviet paramilitary organizations, for providing basic information on Mining institutions insignia as well as for permission to post reconstructions of collar tabs and belt buckle, and colour drawings of students.