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Alternate History

Education (1983: Doomsday)

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Education has been a basic human right since 1952. Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education. At world level, the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 guarantees this right under its Article 13.

Post-Doomsday Education in North America

Following Doomsday, however, education became less important in the face of basic survival. In places nearest to nuclear strikes, military and paramilitary groups would have "taken over" to stem the chaos. When the "authorities" were inadequate, and anarchy set in, then a condition similar to the "dark ages" of medieval Europe would have prevailed. Those with the might would prevail. However, in places removed from direct attack, and with intact university campuses, education became a priority linked very closely with survival. This was especially true in parts of North America.

In targeted areas, basic skills (reading, writing, math, etc.) continued to be taught as long as teachers and students continued to have something to write on. Education became more difficult, however, for secondary/high school students. High level research and experimentation became difficult as communities were cut off from places they could get new supplies, and news of scientific progress. Many places though continued to make do and in recent decades new opportunities opened to these students as the new survivor states in North America and Eurasia became established.

One effect of Doomsday was the disappearance of national standards of education. Many survivor communities and new nations had to completely rebuild their educational systems following Doomsday. Lacking experienced administrators, many teachers were asked to reform new boards of education to administer their struggling school systems. These teachers, remembering their long pre-Doomsday battles with administrators, implemented their own pet reforms and ideas. Furthermore, some communities injected their own mores and values into their school systems since they were no longer regulated by a national government (i.e. some schools in North America are completely comfortable with class prayer). This is one of the reasons why the education systems of various survivor states are so different, despite the states having a common origin.

Nation-states throughout North America recognized the need to rebuild and maintain a strong educational system as essential to building their societies. While basic industries such as farming were essential to survival, education and training were vital in building everything from a local economy to a legal system to providing quality medical care for residents. Realizing that they would have to provide these services themselves, governments looked first to higher education for ways to build, maintain and grow these services.

Throughout North America, from the Piedmont Republic to Utah, from Vermont to Victoria, from Superior to West Texas, and in small survivor states like Muncie and Hattiesburg, the universities were designated as training centers for every conceivable aspect of society. Schools that previously had not offered courses in medicine found themselves asked to provide medical training (with the initial help of area doctors and surgeons); schools that were known for their training in one or a few fields found themselves being asked to provide such training in fields from law and home education to journalism and science. While there were many missteps along the way, surviving universities found ways to improvise and adapt and eventually play important roles in the establishing of the many new nation-states that arose across the former United States and Canada.

Though the smaller markets in the new nations did not require as many "new" teachers, the universities continued to provide training for high school, middle school and grade school teachers, as well as quality resources for these schools. A two way street developed as high schools graduated aspiring teachers that were educated and often sent back to the same schools to replace their former teachers as they retired. As was to be expected, of course, many young teachers would seek other markets, eventually promoting international exchanges as the survivor nations began to communicate and co-operate with each other.

Meanwhile, homeschooling became popular, especially in those areas that were unable to manage a school system. In these situations the education of children was dictated by the individual parents. League of Nations agents researching the education system in the southeast United States have noticed that in places where homeschooling is popular, there is significant differences between what boys and girls are taught.

Some subjects saw a resurgence in the post-Doomsday world. Home economics, for example, became popular once again as it became necessary to learn different household skills such as how to cook your own food, make your own clothes, etc.

Education by country

Celtic Alliance

An extension of the primary education system proved valuable after DD because it allowed parents and care-givers to work in food production while ensuring an educated workforce for the future.

Mexico

After Doomsday, Mexican schools received many young Americans. As many American refugees adapted their former lives into their new country, the education system slowly changed to adapt itself to the needs of the population.

Colleges and universities

See main article: Colleges and universities

Universities and colleges had their own problems post-Doomsday, especially in targeted areas. The greatest issue for many of the surviving institutions was feeding the thousands of students, many of whom were not native to the area. On some campuses across the United States, this fact proved to be highly contentious as "townies" refused to share their limited food with people they considered to be "outsiders." Those campuses - and towns - that survived did so in part because the town residents, students and campus officials decided to put aside their differences and work together for the common good.

On some campuses, unfortunately, voices calling for such cooperation were not heard. Dwindling food and medical supplies, and fuel sources, led to increasing cycles of violence not just among town residents and the students they considered outsiders, but among the entire populace. This in turn led to a complete breakdown of civil services and law enforcement and, finally, to a final surge in violence that left almost every resident dead, the survivors fleeing for safer havens. Lawrence, Kansas and Athens, Georgia stand as silent testaments to when no one was willing to work with others to survive Doomsday. There were exceptions, though, to this rule of mutual destruction. In Charleston, Illinois, Eastern Illinois University integrated itself into the management and protection of the city and today remains a pillar of the small nation.

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