Michelle Obama: Education can change lives of young people around the world

The First Lady talks to students in Chengdu Picture: The White House

Michelle Obama has talked about the need for children around the world to have access to education.

The First Lady of the United States spoke about the importance of good schooling during a trip to China from March 19-26.

At a meeting with teachers, students and teachers in Beijing, she said: “One of the reasons I have come to China is to learn more about education around the world. Education is an important focus for me. 

“It’s personal, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education.

“And my parents were not educated themselves but one of the things they understood was that my brother and I needed that foundation. 

“So the President and I have made education a key focus of our work over the coming years because we want to make sure that as many young people in the United States and around the world, quite frankly, have access to education.”

Mrs Obama talked to high school students at No7 School in Chengdu, where 5000 students attend in person and another 42,000 in smaller cities and rural areas attend remotely by video. Many of them are from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The First Lady spoke to 600 students in the school auditorium and another 12,000 by video.

She also took part in a video conference call with students at Peking University and Stanford University in California.

Mrs Obama told the university students: “It’s so important for the world to have access to the energy and insight of all of the people, not just folks who come from privilege. 

“So this opportunity I hope will just shed a light on how possible this work is. Because when a young person sees themselves in you, they will understand that it perhaps is possible for them.”

During a question and answer session with the students, Mrs Obama said: “We’re living in a world where we can no longer afford to let fear keep us apart.

“I grew up in a little apartment on the south side of Chicago. My parents didn’t get a chance to go to college but they poured everything they had into me. And no one could have envisioned that a kid like me would be sitting here, having given a speech at Peking University as the First Lady of the United States.

“But, easily, fear could have blocked me at every turn. So I want all of the young people around the world to operate with the freedom that we have all fought for – the freedom to explore the world, to learn about new cultures, to try hard things, to make mistakes.”

Students at US schools were encouraged to follow Mrs. Obama’s trip online through the White House blog.

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