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Education gives children ‘fighting chance’ in life, says Shakira in Doha
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Education gives children ‘fighting chance’ in life, says Shakira in Doha

Ailyn Agonia 
UNICEF goodwill ambassador and Grammy-award winning artist Shakira Mebarak has emphasised on the power of education to transform and improve an individual’s chances in life in her remarks during the Educate A Child Plenary for the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) 2019 held at the Qatar National Convention Center on Thursday. 
The pop star who have been championing the rights of children to equal access to education through her foundation Barefoot Foundation (Fundacion Pies Descalzos) shared before a crowd of policy makers, global influencers and educators the significant changes in the lives of children and families when they started building schools in some of the most remote areas in her native country Columbia. 
Shakira established her foundation in 1997 with the aim of helping poor and impoverished children. She said, “I realised that most of the issues that children faced in my country have something to do with the lack of access to quality education. To me, it became crystal clear that education is a sure way to give all these children the best fighting chance in life.”
The artist further shared that the inspiration for her foundation was her exposure at very young age to childrenwho, instead of attending school like her then, were forced to take jobs to survive or seen running barefooted in parks. 
“Columbia, like many countries in Latin America, is a country where a few have a lot; a lot has almost nothing and where if you areborn poor, you would almost certainly die poor. Where people don’t access equal opportunities and because of that generation after generation after generation were trapped in the same vicious cycle,” she said.
Shakira fondly referred to her works at her foundation as her ‘greater purpose in life’ more than bagging Grammy awards or her many achievements in the entertainment scene. 
On her partnership with Educate A Child, a programme of Education Above All Foundation, Shakira said, “It is an honour to join forces with Educate a Child. This is such an exciting day for us because it marks a beginning of a new era in my home country Columbia. Most of you know me as an artist and entertainer; that’s indeed my calling.But I never would have imagined when I started out that my work as an artist would end up being a vehicle for me to serve my greater purpose in life of working towards eradicating poverty through the power of education.” 
She said the new partnership will benefit thousands of children, teachers and families and will lead to the establishment of new schools, distribution of school uniforms, provision of transportation programme for children enrolled in schools, training programmes for teachers, among others. She further added, “We are extremely confident that this partnership is only the beginning.”
On the occasion, Shakira also called on governments to take responsibility and for civic societies to do their part in changing a child’s life even through simple interventions or addressing basic issues that prevent children from attending schools such as lack of access to transportation. 
 “Systemic change often begins from the bottom up, rather than the top down,” said Shakira. 

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