This paper examines the public education system in Vilna Governorate in the period between the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. This part of the paper analyzes the system's development in the period 1803-1880. In putting this work together, the authors drew upon a pool of statistical data published in Memorandum Books for Vilna Governorate in the period from the 1860s to the 1910s, as well as an array of statistical data on the Vilna Educational District published in the scholarly journal Zhurnal Ministerstva Narodnogo Prosveshcheniya. The authors also made use of several regulatory documents. The authors conclude by noting that the system of public education in Vilna Governorate had developed markedly distinct characteristics of its own. One of these characteristics was based on the motley ethnical and confessional composition of the area's population. As a consequence, in the period 1803-1880 the region witnessed two Polish uprisings, which would ultimately have an effect on its system of public education. At the same time, the development of the system of public education in Vilna Governorate had a set of features common to other regions within the Russian Empire as well. More specifically, there was a sharp rise in the number of educational institutions subsequent to the 1861 reform, and afterwards there was a drop in that number in the second half of the 1870s. © 2019 by Academic Publishing House Researcher s.r.o.