The history of education in the Russian Empire remains a controversial and politicized topic. If in Soviet times the achievements of the imperial system were ignored, now, on the contrary, there is a certain idealization of it. This article attempts to look at the education system of the Russian Empire as a set of regional education systems, between which there were serious differences. To achieve this goal, statistical data on 5 provinces and 2 Cossack regions were analyzed, and it was concluded that in the middle of the XIX century, indeed, we can talk about different educational systems in the regions of the empire. At the same time, both organizational differences were noted (for example, in some regions, the schools of the Ministry of State Property were more important for the spreading of literacy in general than the schools of the Ministry of Public Education), and qualitative differences (the proportion of children attending schools, even in regions not affected by the Caucasian war, fluctuated several times). As a result, if in some regions (Vologda province, Orenburg Cossack army) educational institutions were already in all significant settlements, then in others – there were very few of them (less than 30 in the area of the Don Army and less than 10 in the Tiflis province). Copyright © 2021 by Cherkas Global University.