Here’s a story.
Once upon a time there was an emperor who ruled his country with a heavy hand. Most of his subjects couldn’t read or write so it was easy for him to create laws that suited him best because nobody had the education to challenge the laws, let alone read them.
A teacher entered the kingdom and without the knowledge of the emperor began to teach the subjects how to read, write and understand basic numeracy. The subjects now were able to understand the law of the land and decided that they didn’t like some of the laws and wanted the emperor to change them. The emperor made some minor changes but he also increased the size of his army at the same time.
The teacher unfortunately disappeared one day and the subjects were left on their own to teach themselves how to read and write better.
Twenty years went by and as the subjects became more educated they began to pressure the emperor to provide schools for their children so they too could learn to read, write and understand numbers.
Many of these children excelled in school so their parents put more demand on the emperor to create a school that allowed children to be educated beyond the age of 12.
The emperor was not keen on this so he denied their request and put the money he could have put into education into his army so he could control his subjects better.
The subjects were unhappy and created underground high schools so students could continue to learn past Grade 6.
Twenty more years went by and the emperor knew that many of his subjects now had more education than he did and were demanding that he build colleges and universities.
They also began to challenge both his authority and that of his army.
After a few uprisings with some of his subjects fleeing the land, the emperor realized that he couldn’t afford to lose his subjects especially those with an education as they brought prosperity to the kingdom, so he relented.
He gave his subjects the authority to create only one campus and made it very difficult for many students to attend as they only had so many desks and classrooms.
About 10 years later, the emperor passed away and his daughter, who was educated outside of the kingdom, became the new emperor.
She soon realized that to make her subjects happy she needed to meet their demands.
So she built more colleges and added a few universities to the kingdom.
Within 15 years about 10 per cent of the subjects had completed either a college or university credential and were demanding that the emperor create a system of democracy where leaders were elected by the people.
The daughter, who was educated in Canada, understood their demands and realized the kingdom could no longer rule with a strong army but needed to have the people involved in both the creation and administration of the laws of the land.
She abolished the position of emperor and all the power it held and created a political party which elected her as leader.
She also allowed other political parties to be developed by the people and put forth a date for an election every four years.
Six months later the first election took place and the new leaders of the land won based on their platform of improving the current education system to help more people get high school diplomas, and college and university credentials.
So what’s the moral of this story?
There are many. Simply put, education is a building block for most countries. This story tells us that a well-educated population yields more power than the brute force of a mighty army. It helps us believe in our country because education gives us the power to influence change. This power, in turn, helps us to believe in ourselves.
Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.