"Perhaps, Sir, you will someday come back with books." The words were uttered in 1998 by the headmaster of a grade school in Bahundanda, Nepal -- that had a library, but no books -- to John Wood, a stressed out American senior executive at Microsoft, who was trekking the area's famed Annapurna Circuit.
If one thing was made clear by the scale of the recent anti-child slavery demonstration of 200,000 young people in the Burmese capital Rangoon, it is that regimes can repress for a time but they cannot maintain their repression indefinitely. The marches show that while children may disappear one by one into slavery, sold off by relatives or neighbours, becoming in effect invisible people - the victims' cries for help cannot be silenced forever, and eventually the truth will out.
Whatever our own standpoint might be, we should accept that one voice is often missing from this unruly discourse: that of young people, the very group most often affected by the decisions of education leaders. Just as they are absent from educational debates generally, so youthful voices are too often muted when the topic is the leadership of the social good that is utterly central to their futures: their education.