‘A school opens and the world changes’ says education champion Shakira

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Shakira’s foundation already has four schools in Cartagena, Barranquilla, Quibdo and Soacha (Shakira / Twitter)

Celebrities, Education funding, Right to education, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Shakira had a powerful message for Colombia’s government when she returned to her home country to attend ceremonies to launch two new schools.

The singer and campaigner said it must increase investment in education if there is to be lasting peace.

“A school opens and the world changes,” she said.

“When some children don’t receive the same education as those who live in better conditions, we can’t talk about a country in peace, we can’t talk about a country with equality, because education is what equalises us.”

Shakira – a longtime campaigner for education for every child – was in Colombia to close her world tour.

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(Shakira / Twitter)

The 41-year-old saw the ground broken at the sites of two schools to be built by her charitable foundation Pies Descalzos. One was in the city of Cartagena and the other in her hometown of Barranquilla, where she left her footprint in the cement cornerstones.

The foundation – which Shakira started in 1997 at the age of just 18 – already has four schools in Cartagena, Barranquilla, Quibdo and Soacha.

Pies Descalzos – which means Barefoot – will spend $4.6 million on the Cartagena school in the Villa de Aranjuez neighbourhood and another $4.3 million on the project in Barranquilla’s Nuevo Bosque, along with several private donors. They will serve areas where existing schools are overcrowded.

Shakira tweeted: “15,000 children in the neighbourhood of El Bosque in Barranquilla and only two schools. We have to do more. Millions of children in Colombia still have no access to quality education.”

Shakira Colombia Education 1

(Shakira / Twitter)

Colombia’s previous government signed a peace deal in 2016 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels to end more than five decades of war. 

But another guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and several crime gangs remain active.

Shakira has been a leading figure in the campaign to tackle the global education crisis – there are more than 260 million children and youth out of school.

She has backed two of Theirworld’s biggest education campaigns. In 2015, she went to the United Nations to deliver our #UpForSchool Petition – the world’s biggest ever petition on education, which was signed by more than 10 million people.

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Shakira and two of our Global Youth Ambassadors deliver the #UpForSchool petition to UN education envoy Gordon Brown (Theirworld)

In June this year, she kicked off her 54-show El Dorado tour by urging her fans to support our efforts to get world leaders to back a bold plan to get millions of children into school.

Shakira believes the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) – that will unlock $10 billion a year – is a key element in solving the global education crisis. She is a member of the influential Education Commission that first proposed IFFEd.

She sent a message of support to over 1.5 million people who signed a petition calling for IFFEd that was delivered to UN Secretary-General Guterres in May.

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