I am planning to write a book where a near-future government on Earth begins recruiting talented children at the age of 14 to train them to become the next political leaders. They are going to study in an academic environment where they will receive a specialized education in running a state. These children are not soldiers sent to combat.
At the age of 18, they begin an internship working for a government department. The government in my world is a deep state that is authoritarian but non-hereditary with higher positions earned by appointing people through connections like the Chinese Communist Party or the derin devlet in Turkey. However, people begin training for these positions from an early age rather than later on.
Children in the program take tests determining skill in the political sphere to determine whether they will “make it,” similar to scholarly examinations in Song Dynasty China. Only the top people in each department advance to actual leadership.
Why would a society choose to train the next generation of political leaders at the age of 14 rather than as adults? How could this practice begin in a society?