By Sarit Henig
JERUSALEM, 22 June 2011 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and global education advocate Shakira visited the Max Rayne ‘Hand-in-Hand’ School for Bilingual Education in Jerusalem yesterday, meeting with students to talk about the power of education.
|VIDEO: 21 June 2011 - UNICEF reports on the visit by pop singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira to a bilingual school in Jerusalem where children learn in Hebrew and Arabic. Watch in RealPlayer|
Greeted at the school’s entrance by two students – one Israeli, one Palestinian – Shakira danced with the school choir as its members sang and performed the Waka Waka World Cup anthem.
After the students’ warm welcome, Shakira thanked them and blessed the friendships she saw between the students – Israeli and Palestinian – and emphasized that their close bonds were the key to building a better future for the region and the world.
“My visit to Max Rayne School today here in Jerusalem – an inspirational school where students learn together, across all divides, speaking both Arabic and Hebrew, learning and playing together without difference – only reminded me, once again, that the most crucial decisions we can make for a better tomorrow concern how to raise and educate our children,” Shakira said.
During the visit, Shakira sat with a small group of Israeli and Palestinian students and asked them about the reality of their day-to-day life studying together in Hebrew and Arabic and building cross-border friendships.
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira, accompanied by UNICEF Israel Executive Director Peera Chodorov, speaks with Israeli and Palestinian children during her visit to the Max Rayne ‘Hand-in-Hand’ School for Bilingual Education in Jerusalem.|
Building peace, cooperation
The Max Rayne ‘Hand-in-Hand’ school uses bilingual education as a tool to help build peace, coexistence and equality. Every class is taught by two teachers – one Israeli, one Palestinian – and in Arabic and Hebrew.
The school is directed by the Hand-in-Hand Organization, which operates three additional bilingual schools in Israel: in Beer Sheva, Wadi Ara, and the Galilee. The Max Rayne School is the oldest – founded in 1998 – and the largest of Hand-in-Hand’s schools.
“I’m convinced, as many people are, that investing in education is the best strategy for peace and global stability, and the earlier, the better,” said Shakira. “Early investment, early childhood nutrition, and basic health care from birth through the age of 6 are essential for a child to develop the actual physical means to learn, to perform better in class, but also better throughout life.”
The visit, hosted by UNICEF Israel, is part of Shakira’s ongoing work promoting the expansion and improvement of comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.