My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BANGKOK, Thailand, Sept. 20—In the education committee of the World Federation of United Nations Associations meeting here the subject was the role of the federation in adult education. There were two reports prepared and both were very interesting.

Sweden and Indonesia were wisely chosen for studying this subject. One spoke as a highly developed country and one as a country fighting illiteracy and needing help not only to teach about the United Nations but to help the adult population to read and write.

As each representative of a country spoke it was easy to see where the difficulty of acquainting people with the United Nations was complicated by the problem of illiteracy. They voiced their desire for books that could be read by those with little skill in reading, but yet they could not be interested in children's books. They were speaking for mature people shut out from the world of ideas.

All the efforts that are being made in various countries to tell people about the United Nations and the specialized age we live in are far more extensive than I thought.

Thailand, for instance, told of a center set up here to promote fundamental education by UNESCO. Teachers are being trained to go out and weave a knowledge of the United Nations and its purposes into their everyday teaching.

As a government, Thailand is much opposed to Communism, and there has been some controversy as to whether the people, many of whom may never have heard about Communism, shall be taught about it. The consensus at present is that they must have it explained to them on the theory that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Time alone will tell more.

But there is a big Chinese population here and they are very near to China. Besides, this is an old nation and mature, and I think they are probably wise to trust to the wisdom and understanding of the people.

One of the delegates from The Netherlands gave me a speech written by Queen Juliana and delivered at the University of Leyden to The Netherlands Youth Community and The Netherlands Students Council.

It is a very interesting speech in which the Queen points out that people can no longer live successfully divided from each other, nor can there be the have and the have-nots in a peaceful world. She is trying to arouse the conscience of the youth of her land and to appeal to their idealism. Through them she hopes, I am sure, to reach the older people as well.

I have always been told that if you could reach the children in the community you had their parents as well, so Queen Juliana may be right in making her appeal to the university students.

She closes with these sentences which I think all of us might ponder:

"But the fact is that the whole of mankind together has a task, a joint commission, a responsibility with each other which in the first place is for each other. For only real mutual dependence can bring salvation."

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 21 September 1955