This image taken by famous Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii depicts a group of students in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan), which he visited on a number of occasions, including a trip in 1907 that focused on the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand.
Following the emancipation of serfs carried out by Tsar Alexander II in 1861, a number of other notable reforms were implemented throughout the remainder of the 19th century. Some of the most influential reforms pertained to the education system in the Russian empire. One of the main concerns of the state after the emancipation of serfs was the issue of properly assimilating these newly freed citizens into Russian society and eliminating widespread illiteracy. Through the work of the Orthodox church, the Ministry of Education, and the zemstvo (local government body) a series of elementary level schools were constructed in order to educate the former serfs.
In addition to the creation of these elementary schools, changes were also made at the secondary education level with the help of the University Statute of 1863. This statute turned Russian universities into self-governing bodies with greater freedom than those during the rule of Tsar Nicholas I.
Unfortunately these reforms were not universally welcomed by all in Russian society, particularly nobility. The opening of new schools enabled former serfs and non-nobles to become educated enough to take positions in the military and civil service that were previously reserved for nobles. The enhanced education of peasants also created a more politically informed lower class (which had originally been the purpose of educating them) that could now speak out to the bureaucracy about its needs. This created tension and political unrest among former serfs that would continue for years after emancipation.
Picture Title: Studenty v Mudaris. Samarkand (Students in Mudaris Samakand)
Permanent Record: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/item/prk2000001485/
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 209-222. Print.