Kantonist Schools

Kantonist Schools


educational institutions in Russia for kantonisty (sons of active soldiers) that appeared in the early 19th century. The kantonisty attended the schools from the age of seven (ten after 1824) to 15; most students then enlisted in the army for 20 years, and the rest continued their studies until they were 18 and graduated as noncommissioned officers. Special kantonist schools appeared in the 1830’s to train noncommissioned officers for various branches of the army.

The Decree of 1758 required all soldiers’ children to receive instruction. But despite their numerical growth, the schools actually were able to educate only an insignificant number of kantonisty-. in 1842, of 223, 000 kantonisty, only 37, 500 were enrolled in the schools, and in 1856 approximately one-tenth of the 372, -000 eligible children were enrolled.

The fundamental goal of the kantonist schools was to train well-educated soldiers “loyal to the throne.” The curriculum was very limited (reading, writing, counting, and scripture), and the routine was extremely harsh, dominated by military regimentation. A. A. Arakcheev admitted that the boys wasted away “like candles” with one out of five sickening and one out of ten dying.

As the military settlements were liquidated the kantonistschools were either disbanded or transformed into military schools.


Mel’nitskoi, N. Sbornik svedeniio voenno-uchebnykh zavedeniiakh v Rossii, vols. 1–4. St. Petersburg, 1857–60.
Lalaev, M. Istoricheskii ocherk voenno-uchebnykh zavedenii (1700–1800), parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1880.
Nikitin, V. N. MnogostradaVnye: Ocherki proshlogo. St. Petersburg, 1895.