Self-Determination for Students

Commissariat of Education, Announcement on Self-Determination. January 26, 1918


This humanitarian appeal to students to cast aside the abuse of their teachers had unintended consequences, as teachers fearful of their new Soviet superiors either quit or lost control of their classrooms to children who felt they had gained the upper hand.

Original Source: Izvestiia, No. 9, 26 January 1918, p. 4.

Quite a number of anonymous letters have been arriving at the Division of High Schools of the Commissariat of Education containing complaints by high-school students against the inhuman treatment they receive at the hands of teachers and school authorities…

In its desire to defend the rights and interests of student youth the People’s Commissariat of Education … urges the students to cast aside their fear and come out openly and courageously in defense of their interests. The students need not fear punishment from their school “authorities”; they should remember that the Worker- Peasants’ Government is always ready to come to their defense against any oppression.

The Commissariat calls the attention of the students to the Union of Teacher-Internationalists and also to the Union of Socialist Student Youth, around which students should rally in defense of their needs and demands.

Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 596-597.

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