Going to school

Every village has something like a school, usually run by the local priestess of Naigha who is also the undertaker, midwife, herb-woman and village clerk. She teaches reading and writing, basic arithmetic, some history, knowledge of the gods, valein ilain ("the king's language", standard spoken Ilaini) and usually a smattering of other subjects depending on what she happens to know.

Most children go to school for at least a year or two between the ages of five and eight (after which a peasant child is indispensable at home). This results in people generally being able to write at least their name and a few simple words, and read warnings and notices. Real literacy is for the rich and for townspeople, who tend to stay on at school until their early teens.

Really bright pupils may go to town for proper schooling or be discovered by a Guild of Anshen runner if they're bright that way as well. Mailei Halla, reputed to have invented or at least consolidated the common script, was sent from her native village somewhere in the north (in her memoirs she calls it Valdie Sali, "Thingy-on-the-Valda", because of its insignificance) to Valdis at nine to become an apprentice clerk.

Higher schooling

There are some schools for further education. Valdis, Essle and Veray have trade schools where young people are groomed for a position in a trading-house or the Temple of Mizran. The students learn to write in a scribe's hand, advanced arithmetic, bookkeeping, commercial practice and correspondence, merchant law and the Iss-Peran trade language that is used in all overseas trading. Typically, they arrive at eleven or twelve and leave school for an apprentice job in their mid-teens.

The Guild of Anshen runs a school in Turenay, where young (and occasionally older) people are schooled in the use of their semsin skills. It is not only a centre of education, but also of research into new applications of psychic gifts. Students are encouraged to learn an occupation outside the school. There's a scholarship fund, but many of the poorer students pay for their tuition by doing some work for the maintenance of the school (for instance, one student used to be a chandler's apprentice and now earns her keep by making the school's candles). The school has an associated hospital where doctors and midwives are trained.

The Academy at Ildis produces real scholars. Many young people of good family study general subjects there for a year or two to round out their education, but there's also quite a large contingent of students who go on to become astronomers, alchemists, apothecaries, historians, lawyers or mathematicians. Ordinary lectures are public and free; teachers earn their keep by holding private classes.

Recently, Queen Raisse founded the School of Knowledge in Valdis, where scholars from Iss-Peran, Aumen Síth and elsewhere teach a wide range of subjects. The scholars from Iss-Peran were given to her as slaves by the visiting Khandihan, the envoy from the Enshah (king) of Albetire, but freed under Valdyan law and employed by the school.

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