In my fictional world, humanity lives underground in a planet that is not Earth. The underground is solid rock with "burrows" of large size that house all life on this planet. Think of it kind of like the hollow Earth in Kong vs. Godzilla enter image description here This means that each burrow has a self sustaining atmosphere and biomes of their very own. In addition, these burrows are connected by long, large tunnels. Humanity didn't even know that there was a surface above them until relatively recently in their history.

Following a monster apocalypse centuries prior, humanity banded together in a world empire/federation. Though the monsters continue to exist and cause havoc, humanity has flourished, albeit in a highly militarized society. The leaders of this federation/empire believed that in order to survive, humanity must become culturally homogenous. Among other things, this necessitated the creation of enormous boarding schools that all children are required to attend from the age of 6-18. During the school year, contact between child and parent are somewhat limited, but children go back to them when the school year is over. In these boarding schools children are taught the basics (reading ,writing, mathematics, history, extracurriculars, etc) as well as courses that foster a love for the empire/federation.

My question is: would it be feasible for a large, wealthy empire/federation to have a relatively small number of large boarding schools to teach it's youth population?

Some more info:

Technology in this world is roughly 500 years ahead of ours, Examples of technology in this world: artificial wombs, gyrojet guns are prevalent firearms, railgun artillery, highly advanced submarines that can house hundreds

World population is around 3 billion, spread unequally between burrows

There are 16 burrows in this world

Service to the government is a key element of this society

Boarding schools in each burrows should be between 1 and 7

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    $\begingroup$ If this empire is, as you said, "wealthy", there should be no problem raising the children in boarding schools. How effective those schools would be in raising successful adults is another question. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Aug 28, 2021 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ Could you define 'feasible'? It is technically possible to send all children to boarding schools. However, your resulting society will not be the same as ours. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Aug 28, 2021 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ @OtkinBy feasible, I mean is it possible to have boarding schools that can house a great deal of children ( and the adults to teach them, along with school supplies and materials) and make well rounded adults? $\endgroup$
    – forgotenm
    Aug 28, 2021 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds exactly like the Sparta educational system. It was highly effective at turning out lots of really great warriors who all thought alike and didn't innovate. It sounds exactly like what you're looking for. history.com/topics/ancient-history/sparta $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 28, 2021 at 3:22

3 Answers 3


the are called creche schools and they have been tried.

So it depends on what you mean by "feasible"

They ran into a few problem. especially when the children were only or mostly raised in the creche.

Creche raised children tend to treat crechemates as family and biological family as strangers. A reoccurring problem was crechemates had a lot of trouble finding partners since all the children the same age in their area were to them siblings and thus not valid sexual interests.

Creche raised children often have social problems since they don't have a home life thus they are are often poorly socialized, this also leads to high social disorders. Sense of abandonment and child to child abuse is common and more extreme the younger the student is first put into such care. Consider for most students if home or school life is dysfunctional the other may not be, but for fully institutionalized children they cannot escape conflict.

the later a child goes to these facilities the better the results, or in other words the younger they are when they go in the more likely they are to develop problem. The less students try have to rely on institutions for socialization the better.

boarding schools creches can work but only by minimizing the time in the boarding school and have frequent time spent home with parents. Modern British boarding schools, one of the more successful, have daily visits from parents and long weekends home for example.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Isn't creche for young children only (a nursery school)? Also, summer vacations are long in many countries in the world. On average, the length of the longest vacation is 8-10 weeks. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Aug 28, 2021 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin the US summer vacation is 10-12 weeks, but I will edit. and that is one usage of creche, more common nowadays since the old form is very rare nowadays, a creche used to mean a place that took care of children instead of their parents. it could refer to anything from day to full institutionalization. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 28, 2021 at 5:11

It's feasible and the modern day rich do it a lot.

Boarding schools are common. The rich have no time for their kids, and often send them away to a school with other rich kids.

Some states also dump most kids in a state school as well, so they can be educated to properly follow the state.

It doesn't make especially resilient people.

In a boarding school you're away from parents who would otherwise seek to protect you and prevent overt abuse. That tends to mean bullying and abuse, physical and sexual, is much easier. The staff and other students are both threats. As such, boarding school students often learn to construct a mask where they never show weakness, never show any strong emotion, and expose no vulnerability.

This tends to leave them emotionally fairly immature and erratic, since constantly constructing a mask is quite a drain.

It doesn't really engender a communal identity.

Because of the fairly brutal bullying, lack of support and affection, and lack of love you can't trust your community. If you form bonds with your community people around will just exploit you, and you have no parents to help guide you and protect you.

As such, as the article above notes, you'll mostly form bonds with members of your group.

Ex-boarder leaders cannot conceive of communal solutions, because they haven't had enough belonging at home to understand what it means. Instead, they are limited to esprit de corps with their own kind.

That said, they can certainly do it. Just, ripping children away from their parents en masse and trusting them to the uncaring hand of the state isn't gonna lead to especially good conditions, so it may not lead to as many successes as they'd want.


Warning: Contains Math

Let's start with the numbers side of things.

My city, Toronto, has roughly 3,000,000 people. A brief Google search shows its school board to serve roughly 247,000 students with an additional 91,000 in the Catholic school system. All totalled, that means that a bit over 11% of the population is serviced by the city's school boards. This does not get into adults catching up on their education, or any other schooling that might not be covered by these two boards.

For a population of 3 billion, you are looking at three orders of magnitude greater than this in total. Splitting the population evenly among the 16 burrows for convenience sake makes the average population of a burrow 187.5 million people. Yes, they aren't evenly split, but this is a starting point to discuss numbers

Using the (rounded) rate above of 11% in school, that make a student population of 20,625,000 split among all year groups in the average burrow. If the idea of 6 to 18 is to have 12 grades like the North American system, that amounts to 1,718,750 children per grade in this totally average burrow.

As pointed out above, they are not evenly split. Some are larger and will have more students. Some will be smaller and have fewer students. Regardless, it amounts to what we would consider a large city's worth of kids that need to be schooled.

Logistical Issues

Disclaimer: I will be using the system I was raised on, which was in Canada. Your experiences with schooling may vary

So, you have an average burrow school system that needs to teach 20,625,000 young impressionable children and you want to limit the number of places to send them. How do you do that?

The boarding schools for the kids are not schools at this point -- they are entire cities with the burrow. Not only do you have the 20+ million students in the city, but the million or so teachers providing instruction to them, along with the thousands of support staff for the facilities in the form of administrators, custodians, specialists, etc. With that many people, your school will need the infrastructure to support them on top of the regular needs for the school itself.

Side note: Not all students learn in the same way -- more resources may need to be added to handle that.

Even if you split these numbers into seven, it is still a mindbogglingly high number of adolescents to house in one place.

Then you have to figure out how to transport all those students back and forth on holidays and after the school session is over for the year -- where I live that is two weeks at the end of December and All of July and August. Assuming a schedule of five months in to one month out, that is still two round trips a year for students. A number that could increase with more, but shorter breaks.

The raw number of kids will probably lead to your children being split into a number of groups, say 12 groups spaced 4 weeks apart -- you're underground so you don't need to worry about years as much as if you were above it.

Even split in 12, that is still 1.7 million students that need to be transported in or sent home every four weeks on their schedule. Or more often if there are scheduled breaks in the year. Infrastructure that may not be heavily used outside those times. If at least one parent comes to pick up their children, that is roughly 3.4 million people on one transit route every four weeks. Your Boarding City also moonlights as a major transit hub or has a mini transit system of its very own to link with the burrow's system.

Cultural Homogeneity

This part, your Burrow Government can do so long as they hold enough power to do so. This is making sure that there is a single lingua franca throughout the burrows and that your students are only taught in that language to a curriculum that they develop.

The only variance to the curriculum that is allowed is related to anything needed in relation to immediate geographical, and more importantly, geological area. Everything else your world government has set forth -- all of course curated by experts and containing enough subtle propaganda to help encourage children to love the empire.

Your world government's biggest challenge is ensuring that 16 disparate geographical area maintain a cultural homogeneity, even with the tunnels connecting them. Perhaps the apocalypse helped with that. But really your world government will want to ensure a steady flow of people from one burrow to another such that both the populations remain stable and there is enough mixing of the burrows to preserve a monoculture throughout the world. That is another logistical issue in and of itself.


Given the advancement of tech created these burrows, it should be plausible to house all the children in a small number of schools -- at least on a technical level.

Realistically though, I don't think it's feasible to have these boarding school cities within the burrows. Again, with the advancement of technology and a different mindset, I could be wrong.

Then again, I did not touch on the mental aspect of children going through 12 years of boarding school -- just the numbers and some of the logistics of supporting a student population of that size.


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