STUDENTS
01/06/2015 10:43 BST | Updated 01/06/2015 10:59 BST

Aung San Suu Kyi: The Future Of Burma Lies In Educating Our Young People

Burma's young people hold the key to the country's success, opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has said.

The former political prisoner was speaking via video link to more than 1,200 leaders of higher education from around the world as part of the British Council's Going Global conference.

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"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," Suu Kyi said. "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."

Earlier this year student activists protested in Burma, also known as Myanmar, against an education reform bill which would centralise control of universities. The youths wanted official recognition of the student union, an inclusive education for disabled persons and mandatory education for students through the middle school level.

Burma had 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” she added.

"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."