Throughout the world, formal education is a central aspect of society. The importance of learning is especially emphasized among the upper class of the Fire Nation, and to a lesser extent, by some people in Ba Sing Se.
Types of education
Spiritual enlightenment was central to the Air Nomad culture, as all of its members regularly meditated, in addition to practicing airbending. Furthermore, they were taught to value all forms of life and considered it to be sacred, regardless of whether it was good or evil. For children, there existed the Air Scouts, an organization that taught young Air Nomads several useful skills, such as how to tie proper knots around the horns of a sky bison.
Besides basic skills such as reading and writing, a warrior's battlefield skills are also highly valued, as the city maintains a fairly large army and armory. Waterbending is also regularly taught, with waterbenders like Master Pakku instructing and testing male waterbending students during regular dueling sessions, and female waterbenders frequently attending healing classes. Prior to the end of the Hundred Year War, female waterbenders in the North were forbidden from learning any techniques beyond healing.
Prior to its near-destruction at the hands of the Fire Nation, the Southern Water Tribe hosted regular classes for its students, as the tribe once consisted of several large walled villages. Unlike the North Pole, it also regularly taught waterbending to members of both sexes, and gender discrimination was not an issue for budding benders. Sadly, this art was virtually lost when the Fire Nation killed or captured the South Pole's entire waterbender population, except for Katara. Like the North, the South maintains a strong regard for its warrior culture. In spite of the South's dire state and its lack of contact with the outside world, the South's tribesmen are quite literate, as Sokka and Katara were capable of both reading and writing without any difficulty.
During Avatar Kyoshi's lifetime, education in the Earth Kingdom was known to have a certain level of corruption, as it was common for tutors to swap identities with children of wealthy families in order to pass the government tests needed for prestigious administrative jobs.
One of the most renowned academic institutions in the Earth Kingdom is Ba Sing Se University, with its own enrolment materials proclaiming it to be the greatest university in the world. By 296 BG, the university boasted a zoology department headed by Professor Shaw, and by 100 AG young scholars could attend an extensive range of classes in both the sciences and humanities. However, during the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se, teachings on the Hundred Year War were strictly forbidden in the university, as displayed by Joo Dee when she silenced a student who was asked about the conflict by Team Avatar. At the peak of the Dai Li's power, public knowledge of the War was forbidden in the city as a whole.
Education has been highly valued in Fire Nation since at least the lifetime of Szeto. In 296 BG, Rangi noted that it was highly rare for school to be cancelled in the Fire Nation, with one notable exception being the celebrations after the Fire Sages revealed a new Fire Avatar.
Education was strict during the Hundred Year War and was often oriented toward the ultimate goal of indoctrinating the student population in the country's politics. There were few forms of personal expression, as such actions were considered a threat to the Fire Lord's unquestioned authority during the War. Many common arts such as dancing were thus omitted from the school curriculum. There was also very strict censoring to make the students believe that the Fire Nation's war against the other nations was in fact a justified one, as Sozin's official reasoning for the Hundred Year War was to spread his nation's prosperity to others. At the beginning of every day, the students must stand up and pledge loyalty to the Fire Lord, promising to serve him for as long as they live. The Fire Nation also altered certain aspects of historical events to make it seem as though they were fighting for the greater good. For example, a school textbook stated that the Air Nomads used military force to repel Fire Nation attacks, though the peaceful nation had no such organization. The authorities also fostered the impression that Fire Nation history began with Sozin's ascension, as Sozin had forbidden all knowledge of their history prior to his reign to be shared with the people.
Education, especially military knowledge, is also valued for the children of the Fire Nation Royal Family, as shown in the case of Prince Zuko and Princess Azula. Aristocratic children are often educated in well-respected institutions, such as the prestigious Royal Fire Academy for Girls.
Notable educational institutions
- Ba Sing Se University
- Beifong Metalbending Academy
- Fire Nation school
- Master Kunyo's Firebending Dojo
- Master Yu's Earthbending Academy
- Republic City University
- Royal Fire Academy for Girls