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Leadership training for Myanmar’s young people

MANDALAY (UCAN): The Jesuits in Myanmar have opened the Myanmar Leadership Institute (MLI), a youth leadership training institute with the enthusiastic encouragement of Charles Cardinal Maung Bo of Yangon.
With the motto, Learn to Lead, Lead to Serve, the institute aims to help develop a more just society for the poor with professional leaders inspired by a commitment to peace and human rights, concentrating on the preparation of leaders in the fields of education, business and civil society.
Australian Jesuit Father Mark Raper, superior of Jesuits in Myanmar, said it would be a special privilege for young people entering the programme to develop their potential.
“We want to provide solid education at great value and our expectation is that young people will contribute to society with their leadership skills and take part in a nation building,” Father Raper said.
He added that the institute is open to all regardless of ethnicity or religion.
A Jesuit newsletter quoted Father Joseph Anthony Jacob, the first director of the MLI, as saying that leaders are essentially pilgrims, not people who had already achieved perfection.
“Leadership is nothing but a discovery channel and it is a new way of being evangelists and prophets to the poor and the neglected in every society,” Father Jacob said.
The institute’s curriculum has been developed in consultation with experts in the fields of education, entrepreneurship and civil society and with the University of Manila, and students will receive a graduate diploma in leadership from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University.
Cardinal Bo had been eager for several years to open a leadership institute.
“The MLI is one way to begin building a new Myanmar, to develop the values of democracy, to protect and promote human rights,” the cardinal told the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2016.
The outspoken cardinal has repeatedly called for the return of more than 80 Catholic schools that were nationalised by the former military junta in 1965.
Cardinal Bo said the schools “were taken at gunpoint” and has campaigned with other Christian leaders on the issue.
During the 1950s, Myanmar was considered by many to be the best-educated nation in Southeast Asia due largely to the quality of education provided by Christian schools.
Under the military, the country’s education system was mismanaged and grossly under-funded.
Despite some increases in the past decade, state spending remains under the 3.6 per cent of GDP average spent by other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 
The programme also includes integral human development (physical, spiritual, intellectual, political, financial and social), inter-religious dialogue, women’s empowerment and environmental justice.

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