One of the factors in the apparent success of the Middleland culture is its heavy investment in education. The central government spends large amounts of its funding on building and maintaining schools, and offers unconditionally free education to all citizens and residents who seek it. In addition, they provide low-cost or no-cost education to non-resident foreigners who live in special sectors of their expanded territory.
When absorbing a rival kingdom or taking control of a foreign tribe (as they have historically done numerous times in the Outerland), after sending their soldiers, the Middleland government sends their tutors. By educating young foreigners, they are able to more easily adapt the local culture to Middlelander social norms over time, as well as convert locals to the Middlelander state religion, which makes rebellion less likely. In this way, offering free education makes territorial expansion less expensive in the long run.
Due to this focus on education, areas that have been conquered by the Middleland have a high literacy rate, and the literacy rate in the Middleland proper is close to 100%. Foreigners who immigrate to the Middleland without being able to read are sent to school before being assigned work.
Middlelander Education System
For most citizens, the Middleland education system involves two main phases:
General School, which teaches basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and Maharan theology. This schooling happens for four years, from age 6 to age 10 and is compulsory for all people born in the Middleland or born to Middlelander parents. After this schooling, a citizen may choose to go to work in unskilled labor or they may choose a specialization and continue their education in a technical school. Most citizens choose the latter option.
Technical School is more specific and focuses on getting the student prepared for a practical trade. There are four categories that a student may be placed in:
- Clerical Studies (for those who will become bureaucrats)
- Natural Studies (for those learning about sciences and traditions that deal with natural materials)
- Technological Studies (a fairly new category for those learning about sciences that deal with engineered human-made materials)
- Religion (for those who will work in monasteries or temples as lay people, but do not plan to become priestesses).
This schooling happens from the age of 10 to around 13 or 14, depending on the subject. Students may leave technical school a year early if they agree to an apprenticeship position somewhere else. (Goda Brahm does this at the age of 13 after finishing her course of Natural Studies, taking up a position at the Samma Valley Monastery as the horticulturist’s apprentice.)
After their technical education, most Middlelanders begin work in some kind of apprenticeship. Jobs are typically assigned by bureaucrats who work for the central government, though the citizen is often given several options and locations to choose from. Robust young women are encouraged (though not required) to join the military, which is by far the largest employer in the Middleland.
Those who wish to enter the clergy as priestesses can forgo technical schooling altogether, though they usually receive intensive schooling at a monastery that prepares them for a specialization in the clergy. (For instance, Rem Murau studied language at the Central Monastery in Suda as well as at Samma Valley Monastery before becoming specialized in translating ancient religious texts.)
Many monasteries are also schools, often with a special focus, and so priestesses who are experts in a subject may become teachers who educate lay persons.