A pair of colourful woolly jumpers knitted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi fetched more than US$122,000 at a charity auction in Yangon last week.
The red, green and blue V-neck was bought by private radio station Shwe FM, owned by U Kyaw Win’s Shwe Than Lwin, for K41.5 million (US$48,800) late on December 27 as part of a fundraising event, organised by the National League for Democracy, for education projects.
The second jumper was auctioned on December 28 and was snapped up by an unknown buyer for K62.5 million ($73,500).
Those close to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gave conflicting views on whether she knitted the first garment auctioned during her long years of house arrest in Yangon, or while overseas before she returned to Myanmar to embark on her freedom struggle.
“She made it more than 25 years ago in England,” said Ko Ni, a close aide of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I do not know exactly when. Some of her belongings have arrived from England recently.”
But a member of the NLD leader’s security team said she made the first jumper while under house arrest in Myanmar.
The money raised from the sale will fund a series of education schemes, according to U Phyo Min Thein, an auction organiser as well as NLD Pyithu Hluttaw representative.
“We will use the money to help troubled Myanmar migrants in other countries, poor schools and those who live in areas where it is difficult to access the education,” he said.
Other programs include coordinating with the public on education policy reform and scholarships for outstanding students from disadvantages backgrounds, he said.
The auction was accompanied by a charity concert opened by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
She said education was a basic requirement for unity and Myanmar needed to reform its education system to improve the lives of its future generations.
“Without learning, we don’t have the courage to face the obstacles in our lives and the ability to redevelop the country,” she said. “Our country is poor because of the system of government rather than a lack of natural resources. To reform the system we need a good education system that is open to all from children to adults.
“I don’t just mean to read a lot of books but to face and find out solutions to problems with justice. The education delivered in the classroom should deliver these skills but the system of rote learning used in the past 50 years didn’t contribute to the country’s development,” she said.
Minister for the President’s Office U Aung Min agreed education was important for the country’s transition process, particularly national reconciliation.
“Children need to learn the real history to take lessons for the future. The history curriculum will change to take into account different perspectives. Students will also have the opportunity to learn English, Myanmar and the mother tongue language for ethnic minority groups. If we can better learn the cultures and traditions of these groups then this can facilitate national reconciliation. We will also allow young people to learn the subjects of social science and political science. We will start to form universities, research centres and institutions free from the centralisation of the past.”