I heard a remarkable man speak the other night. Dr Thein Lwin used to be a teacher in Burma, now he trains other Burmese teachers in exile in Thailand. They are striving to meet the needs of thousands of children living in refugee camps in Thailand where they have no rights to attend the schools of their host country.

Dr Lwin was in Edinburgh to raise awareness of what is happening in Burma and to the two million Burmese refugees in Thailand. He had made this same speech seven times already in an exhausting round of visits that included the Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh City Council, and each time I imagine even the most cynical listeners were humbled into silence.

While Burma has disappeared from our headline news (today, ironically,we are fretting about the impact of immigrants), places like Forthview Primary School in Edinburgh are in almost daily contact with their partner school on the Burmese border. The headteacher, Sheila Laing visited the school in July and now Dr Lwin was paying a return visit. Between them they want to develop a joint curriculum for the two schools.

All of this is remarkable – not least the efforts of the Edinburghgoldband.jpg schoolchildren to raise money for their Burmese partners by selling gold ribbons (£1 a time). But what really got me was the gentle idealism of this quiet man as he explained that they want to create a curriculum which enables students to develop critical thinking.

They don’t know when they will gain democracy in Burma, the refugee schools struggle with little or no resources, but Dr Lwin and his teachers want to be sure that their children develop the kind of open, questioning minds a truly democratic nation needs.

If you want to buy a ribbon email Sheila Laing sheila@lovehart.demon.co.uk who will pass your orders on to P5, P6, P7.