Education in Old Beran and Its Successors

(From the appendix to Two Paths)

The disparaging remarks about Diana Allen Morgan’s education were no reflection on her, but on Claudia’s desultory education system. The root of the problems go back to Beran itself.

Beran’s approach to education was a decidedly “hit or miss” proposition. The wealthier families had their own tutors, or for the higher officials a private school. Some of the lodges—but not all—had schools. Initiative for universal education would have had to come from the Grand Lodge or the Crown, but both of these, fearing more the possible negative effects of an educated populace (tendency toward revolt) than the positive ones (more productive) were loathe to tackle the problem.

With Beran’s breakup, the “pieces” went in different directions. Claudia and Vidamera continued Beran’s policies, but occasionally the Crown would charter a school to fill in the gaps where a lodge would not. This was the case with the natives at Fort Keane. Unfortunately the funding was meagre for these schools, and the results showed it. One reason Gallen was able to inspire the lodge in Vidamera to close the Catholic school (The Final Decision) was because this school made the existing ones look bad.

Alemara took up the practice of the “free cities” (Cresca, Drago and Cavittown/Fort Albert) by issuing charters for private schools and providing them with government funding. Alemara Central was the first of these, established at the government’s initiative; schools like St. Luke’s and Alemara Academy came later. Unlike Beran, Alemara made primary and secondary education compulsory and universal, which was one of the keys to its later success.

It was Serelia which took the “bull by the horns” in the biggest way, by establishing its system of Anglican parish schools throughout the realm. It was not an overnight process, but by the 1950’s Serelia had one of the best educational systems on the Island, albeit one which had to deal with a high rate of truancy and school leaving due to economic and social factors. Even in the free cities, where the Church of Serelia had no kind of monopoly, the parish schools squeezed out their secular rivals (completely in Drago and Fort Albert.) Other Christian groups reacted by starting their own schools, first the Methodists and later the Pentecostals.

As for the West Island, both Verecunda (with Uranus) and Collina had universal public education in the American mould by the end of the nineteenth century. Verecunda also helped to fund two private schools (one of which was Terry and Cathy’s alma mater) but prohibited confessional schools of any kind. The Catholic Church made up for this in part by funding the private schools to offer Catholic religious education, a move helped greatly by Lucian Gerland himself, and a source of resentment for everyone else. This was eliminated when Kendall came to power. Kendall’s government saw the primary purpose of the public school as a means to bond children to the state, and they pursued this goal to the detriment of the quality of education. Both Collina and Uranus had the enormous task of reversing this trend when they regained control of their schools.

In Aloxa, very few of the slaves had any kind of education at the time of the revolt. On paper Aloxa adopted the Verecundan model early, but their development of their school system was slow, partly due to economic conditions and partly due to attitudes towards education that were no different than Beran’s. Under Leslie’s reign the schools improved at a faster pace. By the time of the invasion of Verecunda their schools were at least on par with their Verecundan counterparts and in some ways better, especially on reading and literacy. No discussion on education on the Island would be complete without mention of the University of Verecunda, the Island’s only institution of higher education. Until the 1970’s most Islanders with a college education got it from UV. Unfortunately UV was a centre of support for Kendall’s programme, and as with primary and secondary schools UV became an indoctrination centre for the state. As this did not sit well with other Islanders, their participation at the school nearly dropped to nothing. This was made up in part by students from the US; ironically the rest of the Island started to send their students to the US. The numbers either way were small; higher education outside of Verecunda was still a rare business.

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