Interview: Education for emancipation

Oct 31, 2008 (DVB), Czech minister Ondøej Liška stressed the importance of education in bringing about democracy and an active civil society in Burma in an interview with DVB.

Liška, the minister for education, youth and sport in the Czech Republic, attended the Forum 2000 conference in Prague earlier this month.

Forum 2000 aims to prevent religious, cultural and ethnic conflict and promote democracy and an active civil society.

DVB: What is the Czech Republic's position on Burma?

OL: "President Havel, the former president of Czech Republic, is one of the world's most famous proponents and promoters of help to Burma and I know that organisations from the Czech Republic, non-governmental organisations, developed programmes to help young people. I wish the government of Czech Republic would be much more effective.

"What we have done now is that we have integrated the development cooperation of all ministries into one agency and I believe this agency should have a very strong educational goal. That's why I was also very much involved in these preparations and I would like to also enhance the number of, for example, fellowships of young people from Burma but also from other countries to be able to come over to Czech Republic and return back to their respective country and help themselves."

DVB: What strategies do you think can best promote democracy in Burma?

OL: "I want to assure you that there are plenty of people, also young people in the Czech Republic, who very closely follow the Burmese regime and the conditions that the Burmese people live under there. Many are also involved with non-governmental organisations organising help for Burma.

"I want to tell you ideas I have talked about today in the Forum 2000 conference we're following. I believe education is one of the most long-term effective tools to fight for democracy, openness of society and also for emancipation of people, especially young people, so grasp any opportunity you have to educate yourself because the more you know, the better you are able to lead a dialogue with others, the stronger you are.

"Of course, regimes and powers we face in nowadays world they have arms, they have weapons and education it's a soft power but can be very powerful as well. Any way Czech Republic could help you I will support this. As I said there are non-governmental organisations and there hopefully will be fellowship programmes for Burmese young people to help you as well."

DVB: What would your message be to the Burmese people?

OL: "I will tell them the same thing I am telling to my colleagues in my own government and I am telling to my colleagues in the European Union and anywhere in the world. It is much more important to invest into education than in military or any other resource because this is the future and I think everybody would agree on that beside those who hold the power. So my message would be: invest in education, this is the best for the future of your country."

Reporting by Nay Too

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