2019 U Thant Memorial Lecture:'Building a Peaceful Future by Investing in Children and Young People'
U THANT HOUSE ANNOUNCES A NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH UNICEF YANGON January 27, 2019: UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore and U Thant House Chairman Dr. Thant Myint-U announced plans to work together on education for peace in Myanmar on 27 January 2019. U Thant House is developing a programme for visiting children and young people, to learn about the issues most important to U Thant, including peace and tolerance, sustainable development, and environmental protection. The announcement came as part of this year's commemoration of U Thant's birth anniversary. U Thant was born 110 years ago, on 22 January 1909. His former residence in Yangon, on 31 Panwa Lane, is today a museum and discussion centre run by U Thant House Trust, established as a non-government organization to continue to work in U Thant’s spirit. As part of the celebration, UNICEF's Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore delivered the 4th annual U Thant Memorial Lecture at U Thant House in Yangon. She is a top global servant and has worked to champion economic development, education, health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in a public service, private sector and non-profit leadership career that spans more than four decades.
In her lecture, "Building a Peaceful Future by Investing in Children and Young People", she emphasized, “We must work with governments and those who can influence them, and call on them to replace the arsenals of conflict with U Thant’s defenses of peace.” “I encourage the government and businesses alike to invest in education for all children in all states and regions,” Fore said. “There is no better pathway to peace than by supporting young people to shape better futures for themselves — no matter who they are, or what they’ve endured,” she continued.
Dr. Thant Myint-U, in his remarks, talked about U Thant's commitment to individual human dignity and nondiscrimination, his focus on peace and the protection of the environment, and his firm belief in the importance of education and a free media for any successful society. “U Thant believed strongly in peace, education, tolerance, and an end to all forms of non-discrimination. He believed strongly in what he called ‘individual human dignity’. I hope his ideas might help us in thinking about Myanmar’s future in fresh and creative ways” He continued, “We’re very excited about working together with UNICEF. Our education programme is already attracting lots of students and teachers and I’m sure we’ll be able to do much more with UNICEF’s support.” More than 1,300 students have already been served by the education program being piloted at U Thant House which has been funded by the Government of Sweden. Additional funding from other donors and partners would help U Thant House to scale up the education program, and ensuring that more students can take part.
U Thant House Executive Director Sofia Busch talked about the vision for U Thant House, including the education program underway. “Work is underway to improve U Thant House as a place for learning, not only about U Thant, but also about the issues he worked for that are still relevant today. New elements will be added to the exhibition, inviting more active engagement by visitors. Our aim is to inspire our visitors to contribute in their own ways to peace, tolerance, respect for individual dignity and for environmental protection.” “Educational games, an activity booklet ‘Passport to One World’, and inviting visitors to resolve challenges of our time at ‘U Thant’s desk’, are some of the new elements that will soon be introduced in the exhibition. U Thant House will collaborate with local artists to make installations that can help visualize global challenges in a concrete and engaging way. To honor U Thant’s work for the environment, we also plan to transform the garden into an experiential learning landscape about Myanmar’s biodiversity and environmental challenges.”
Over 170 guests attended today's event, including government ministers, members of parliament, leaders of political parties, civil society, representative of the diplomatic community and the United Nations, and family of U Thant. Daw Aye Aye Thant, daughter of U Thant, shared memories of her father speaking through audio link from her home in the USA. U Thant House is today Yangon's No. 2 tourist attraction on TripAdvisor and received over 4,000 visitors in 2018 alone. Over the past four years, the U Thant House has served as a center of learning and discussion on global history, global challenges and their relevance for Myanmar’s future. In addition to upcoming education programs, In the coming year, U Thant House aims to organise more seminars and roundtable discussions on global issues most relevant to Myanmar’s current challenges.