Shakira Mebarak Motivational Speech – Education Changes The World

Shakira motivational speech at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE 2019) in Doha, Qatar. Shakira talked about her Barefoot Foundation, and how the investment in education has an impactful return. Shakira, who has been championing children’s right to education through her Barefoot Foundation, shared the significant changes that happened in the lives of children and families since her organization started building schools in the most remote areas of her home country Columbia.

Shakira Motivational Video Transcript:

Thank you.

Shukran. Good morning.

Your Highness, Excellencies, friends and colleagues. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

It’s also an honor to join forces with Educated Child, an organization led by a woman who is an amazing role model, a woman who has shown such relentless dedication to getting every child in school.

This is such an exciting day for us, because it marks the beginning of a new era in my home country, Colombia. Most of you may know me as an artist, as an Entertainer and that’s indeed my calling and what I’ve been doing since I was 13 years old, but I never would have imagined when I started out that my work as an artist would end up being the vehicle for me to serve my greater purpose in life of working towards eradicating poverty through the power of education.

As a Colombian citizen, inequality is a concept that sadly one becomes very familiar with at a very young age. It’s a country like many others in Latin America, where a few have a lot, a lot have almost nothing and where if you’re born poor, you will almost certainly die poor.

Where people don’t access equal opportunities, and because of that generation after generation, after generation live trapped in the same vicious cycle fed by prejudice and inaction.

Growing up in my country when I was around eight years old.

I remember I saw kids my age who instead of being in school, were already working in street, in the streets, were barefoot in the park, kids like me whose reality was completely different than mine, only because of the circumstances into which they were born.

It was really hard for me to accept that, to accept that something so unjust didn’t have a solution. There had to be something that could be done.

So I often asked myself why the adults around me were so resigned to the fact that these kids, who were just like me or even their own children, were living in a parallel reality so different and so cruel.

As Kofi Annan put it, “Poverty is intolerable in a world of plenty”. So as soon as I had some success, the first thing I wanted to do was to invest as many resources as I could into what later would become, the most meaningful project of my life, Working for Children.

So I set out to find a team, a team of people who dream big and worked hard and thought like me to help me right the wrongs that I had witnessed throughout my entire childhood.

And that’s when our foundation, The Barefoot Foundation, “Pies Descalzos Foundation” was born. I knew and I was only 18 years old then, but I knew that I wanted to focus on children and improving their lives, but I didn’t know where to start.

so I really felt that I needed to learn what the roots of inequality and low social mobility were. So I decided to study the reasons why children were working in the streets, or why some children were being recruited by the violent organizations like the paramilitary or the gorillas.

Why were so many children suffering from chronic malnutrition?

And I realized that most of the issues that children face in my country, had and have a common denominator, the lack of access to quality education. To me it became crystal clear that education was the surest way to give all these kids the best fighting chance of improving their circumstances in life, because education

is the great equalizer.

When I started building schools in Colombia, which shows the most remote areas, areas where there was literally nothing, no infrastructure, no paved roads, no electricity, no potable water and we decided to build in those places, but not only build schools, but state-of-the-art schools. Schools with comprehensive models that included ECD program, programs, school feeding programs, parent and teacher training.

And another very important part is we decided to engage the government, as it strategic partner and made it nearly impossible for them to say no to doing their part by showing them results through our holistic model that really prove to work.

We noticed that as soon as a school is built in those places, everything is transformed.

The improvements to the infrastructure were jaw-dropping.

Electricity, potable water, were made available, made accessible, roads were paved, malnutrition plummeted, but the best part of all is the academic results. The kids really really responded academically, and now those kids could have been recruited by the guerrillas or paramilitaries or that could have had a completely different outcomes for their lives, the’re now on the way to the university and thriving in their communities.

Some of them are athletes.

Some of them are professionals.

That’s why I’m so, it really is a thrill to work for education.

That’s why I’m so passionate about it because, I really see results that are as palpable as this podium.

And seeing all these success stories.

They have a name and a last name, has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my lifetime. Even, even more so than winning.

Grammys, I think.

Now, now that said our work is far from being done, many many developing countries are still right with inequality and internal conflict and there are a lot of kids who still need to be reached.

History is not only the past. History it’s made every day in the present.

And what matters now is how we go forward and how we fix hat’s wrong. And that is the real challenge.

This is the goal of the SDGs and what people like her Highness and myself and so many more of you who are adamant about achieving are here for. Facts don’t lie and numbers show what an incredible return on investment, the education provides. For instance, if all students in low-income countries left primary school with basic reading skills, a hundred and seventy 1 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Systemic change often begins from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

The government must take responsibility and we should all put as much pressure as we possibly can.

But the rest of all the civil society should also do their part. What we have discovered both appears this causes an educated child is that many times only one single barrier to entry such as, no access to transportation or basic needs like a functioning bathroom can prevent a kid from attending school or even put them at risk of dropping out.

Sometimes all it takes to change a child’s life is the security of a hot meal in school or the ease of being able to hop on a bus that will leave you safely at your classroom’s door. It’s as simple as that, and these are simple interventions and they don’t cost a lot. The biggest effort really is in mapping the communities and going door-to-door searching for the out of school children, talking to the parents, talking to their families, give it a name and putting story behind.

This children is the first step to start rewriting their story. Over the next three years, we pledge to get 54,000 kids who are out of school or at risk of drop out, into the educational system. Ultimately more than two hundred ninety five thousand people will benefit from this project including children, teachers, families and community members.

New schools and classrooms will be built.

School kids in uniforms will be distributed, children will be enrolled in school feeding and transportation programs teachers will be trained in strategies and how to identify those students who are at risk, so they can receive psychosocial support, and we are extremely confident that this partnership is only the beginning and will be the model to replicate throughout my country until not a single child is out of school. This is our responsibility.

Thank you.

This is our responsibility to our children and our debt to fulfill for the generations to come.

Thank you very much.

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