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136

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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RUSSIA AND PEACE
136
they went to study at foreign universities, where
they often lived in circumstances of great material
hardship and want.
While the universities looked through their
fingers in indulgent tolerance of the laziness of
the young nobles who honoured them1 by attending
them, sons of the peasantry and workers could not
as a rule afford to go to the universities, and had
but little opportunity for education, even if they
showed special intellectual aptitude.
In education, as in the sphere of economic
organisation, the revolution denotes a complete
reversal of the situation. Compulsory and free
elementary education was proclaimed. The attempt
was made to organise continuation and higher
grade schools on the principle that they were open
to all young people who were able to profit by
them, but only to these : mental capacity and
work alone were to be taken into account.
Under the administration of M, Lunatscharsky,
People’s Commissary for Public Instruction, a
large number of elementary schools were set up,
and in these it was often endeavoured to introduce
the latest educational methods. They formed the
first step in the educational ladder, being com
pulsory, in theory, for four years. One-sixth’ of
the best pupils, chosen according to their deserts,
were to continue in a higher grade for five years ;
here they entered upon more or less specialised
studies, according as they entered the divisions
for industry, agriculture, etc. After this they
arrived at the university, where the teaching of

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