Bank of Lithuania
Collector coin

Dedicated to the 250th Anniversary of the Educational Commission of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations

Kolekcinė moneta

The Commission of National Education (Pol. Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), which was called the Educational Commission in the Lithuanian literature, was established by the resolution of the Sejm of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations on 14 October 1773. It was the first ministry of education in Europe responsible for the organisation and administration of the school system and the content of education. The Educational Commission was tasked with controlling all academies, higher education institutions, academic communities and public schools in the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as well as modernising and secularising the content of education. The economic basis for the reform of the education system was the property of the Jesuit Order, which had been abolished in 1773. The property was entrusted to the Educational Commission for administration.

The establishment of the Educational Commission was testimony to the adoption of the ideas of the Enlightenment in the Commonwealth of the Two Nations. Belief in the power of the human mind led to the idea that the state system is directly linked to its education system, and that no fundamental change in governance can be implemented without a change in the education system. This insight, developed by philosopher Claude Adrien Helvétius (1715–1771), was used by the reformers of the Commonwealth, who, at the Sejm in Warsaw in 1773, embarked on a radical transformation of the State. The aim was to strengthen and modernise the Commonwealth, which had survived the catastrophe of the first partition, through education. The ultimate goal was to create a system that would produce a generation of young people who would be progressive-minded, educated and ready to serve their country and ensure the prosperity of the State. Lithuanian representatives, namely Joachim Litawor Chreptowicz (1729–1812), Vice-Chancellor of Lithuania, and Ignotas Jokūbas Masalskis (1726–1794), Duke and Bishop of Vilnius, who became the first chairman of the Educational Commission, were actively involved in the drafting of the education reform.


Collector coin

The Educational Commission, composed of eight (from 1776, this number rose to twelve) members of the Sejm, was the first joint state institution for Lithuania and Poland after the Union of Lublin, but in terms of educational administration, the separation of the countries was maintained. The Commonwealth was divided into Polish and Lithuanian education provinces, the latter into education departments. In 1781, the provinces of education were divided into education districts. There were four education districts in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: Lithuania, Navahrudak, Palenque (Polesie) and Samogitia. Each province had one higher (supreme) school that controlled and administered the entire network of schools: Poland had Krakow University and Lithuania had Vilnius University. The rector of the Supreme School of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, astronomer Marcin Poczobutt (1728–1810), not only reorganised Vilnius University by introducing a modern organisational structure and inviting professors from abroad, but also conducted astronomical research at the global level. The economic views of the physiocrats were developed in education by Hieronim Stroynowski (1752–1815), a professor at Vilnius University and head of the Department of Natural Law, who summarised his research in his work Nauka prawa przyrodzonego, politycznego, ekonomiki politycznej i prawa narodów (The Science of Natural Law, Political Law, Political Economy and the Law of Nations, published in Vilnius in 1785).

Collector coin

The reform of the education system focused on the content of education. The renewed curriculum included the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and exact sciences, which were linked to practice and benefits for the national economy. The curricula were based on the principles of natural knowledge formulated by philosophers John Locke (1632–1704) and David Hume (1711–1776), and on the outline of natural pedagogy created by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Agriculture and horticulture were introduced in addition to mathematics, geometry, algebra, zoology, mineralogy and botany. History became a separate subject. The Latin language of instruction in Jesuit schools was replaced by Polish, and modern languages such as German and French were introduced. The Lithuanian language was not a subject. The content of education was supplemented by secular moral science, which became an introduction to the law in its broadest sense (natural, civil, political and national). The series of humanities and social subjects of the Educational Commission’s schools instilled in pupils an understanding of the world based on the principles of Enlightenment philosophy, while at the same time promoting citizenship, patriotism and nationalism – the basis of the new education.

The preparation of original, modern textbooks was the responsibility of the Textbook Preparation Society, which was established in 1775 under the Educational Commission, and from 1780 onwards the systematic training of teachers was introduced. The first Teacher Training Institute was opened at the University in Krakow. In 1783, a similar institution was established in Vilnius. Each year, 21 candidates were admitted to the Teachers’ Institute (Seminary). In 1783–1793, 69 candidates studied at the Supreme School of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 62 of whom successfully completed their studies.

Collector coin

During the period of activity of the Educational Commission, the network of primary and secondary schools in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was expanded. Around 80% of the pupils attending schools were children of peasants and townspeople. The Instructions to Parish Schools, published in 1774, stressed that all children should be treated equally at school, regardless of their social background, since “the children of the nobility, like the children of peasants, are nothing else in society but children”.

The modernisation of the education system and changes in the content of education laid the foundations for the formation of a secular intelligentsia in Lithuania and Poland. In the schools reformed by the Educational Commission, a new generation of nobles, fostering a modern concept of the nation and the national state, grew up and matured, and at the same time, the educated children of city dwellers and wealthy peasants joined in the political, social and cultural life of the State. The new generation promoted the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity, which led the society of the Commonwealth into the era of the Constitution of 3 May 1791, and the 1794 uprising. After the collapse of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations, the former Educational Commission was used as a basis for the establishment of the Public Education (Educational) Commission for the Governorates of Lithuania in 1797, which was interchangeably referred to as the Lithuanian Educational Commission. In 1803, following the education reform in Russia, the Lithuanian Educational Commission was abolished and its functions were taken over by Vilnius University.


Prof. Dr Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė

Coin dedicated to the 250th Anniversary of the Educational Commission of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations

silver Ag 925
34.00 mm
23.30 g
Designed by
Giedrius Paulauskis
On the edge of the coin
1773 and a laurel branch as a separator
Kolekcinė moneta
Release date
12 October 2023
3,000 pcs
Coin price
EUR 72.00 (inclusive of VAT)
Minted at
the Lithuanian Mint

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