Aung San Suu Kyi: the future lies in education

1 June 2016

Burmese Nobel Peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at the opening plenary of the British Council's Going Global 2015 conference in London today, via a video address.

Speaking to more than 1,200 leaders in higher and further education representing more than 70 countries, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that the future of Burma lies in the education of its young people, as they hold the key to their country taking its place in the world community. She called for the support of leaders of international higher education in reforming education in Burma.

Transcription of video address

Aung San Suu Kyi [video] address to leaders of international education at the British Council’s Going Global conference, June 1 2015, London.

“I would like to thank the British Council for inviting me to send this address to the Going Global conference, ‘Forging Futures’. The future of our country, of course, is our young people. It is our young people who will make sure that our country goes forward to take its rightful place in the world community.

For many many years we have been left behind because our education system was weak, because our political system was undemocratic and because our people were never given the chance to realise their potential.

Now that Burma is opening up to a certain extent, these can be changed. And these can be changed through the help of friends, like you, who are interested in what we are doing, in what we are, and what we have the potential to become. It is potential that I would like you to concentrate on. The past is the past and it cannot be changed. But the future is in our hands to shape as we wish it to be. And I would like our young people to have the right equipment, the right intellectual, mental and spiritual equipment to shape the country that they want to live in.

For many years during the days when it seemed that democracy was just a faint hope on the horizon, our hopes were kept alive by friends from abroad who made us understand that we had not been forgotten. This was what kept us all going, and now that we are in a position to take a more active part in building up the future of our own country. We want to equip our people in such a way that they will be able to make the best decisions. To me, that seems the most important part of education: to help people to make the best decisions. If our young people are taught to make the best possible decisions then we can say that education has succeeded in Burma.

‘Going global’ is much more than just education, I understand that, but education is a big part of it, and particularly in Burma, going global in the right way will depend a lot on which direction our education system takes. We would like to build up an education system that will make Burma a better, happier place, not just for our people living here but all our friends who come here. We want Burma to truly be a sanctuary for all who come within its borders, even if it is just for a few hours. And I would like to conclude by thanking the British Council for all that it has done to help my country and my people go global. Thank you."