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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 15:49 GMT
My message to youth: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Sirleaf triumphed in elections in November 2005
As part of the Generation Next season, the BBC has been asking famous figures for their thoughts about childhood - both their own and what they think of young people now.

Here, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gives her view.

Today's kids spend more time with technology, with computers, and they hardly get the time to grow up in the wild - doing the things we did like climbing trees and playing under the moonlight.

Today there's rap music, television, those things that in my view lessen make children vulnerable to some of the bad things that happen.

But children are smart. I think they very quickly get a view as to their environment and how they sit, and what things they can accelerate in.

They pick up languages very quickly, they pick up culture very quickly, and so they fit into other societies much more readily than adults do.

When I was a child, the fact that I was able in my father's village to do things like going swimming in the river, pulling a canoe - the simple things - helped to mould character.

Those are things that I find missing in many of our societies today.

The best advice I can give is: go to school, learn as much as you can, apply your time, do well, get a profession, and equip yourself to become competitive in this world.

For Liberian children, that's a big challenge, because many of them have not been exposed to school and to education for the better part of their lives.

But I think that's the only thing that can set a child on course for the future, to be able to take care of themselves and be able to achieve their potential.

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