Shakira and Jeffrey Sachs take the Topic of Early Childhood Development to the 2009 Iberoamerican Summit

On November 29 and 30th the topic of Early Childhood Development will take Estoril with the presence of Colombian star Shakira, founder and activist of Fundación ALAS, and Jeffrey Sachs, Economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, to present in the frame of the 2009 Iberoamerican Summit the Regional Alliance for the universal coverage of nutrition, education and health for children between 0 and 6 years old.

This coming Sunday, November 29, Shakira will meet with Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, who leads the implementation of comprehensive policies for early Childhood, and is a key member of the Early Childhood Development Secretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean, founde by ALAS and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Other bilateral meetings will also take place with Latin American dignitaries to promote the urgency of achieving universal coverage in health, nutrition and education for children between 0 and 6 years old.

Shakira and Sachs will present the Regional Alliance for Early Childhood Development with the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, and the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, in a press conference that will take place Monday, November 30th at 1:45 pm in the Hotel Miragem, Room 1.The ECD Report will be presented as the first product of this unique and innovative initiative for the region’s Early Childhood.

Letter from SHAKIRA

Thank you for all your support and love! As an artist, I am constantly looking for new challenges and ways to express myself. One way is through my music - another is by giving back and doing what I can to make our world a better place.

I want to share with you an issue that I am very passionate about. I believe that every child should have the right to follow their dreams and get an education. Growing up in Colombia, I saw that education can be a child's way out of poverty and a way to fulfill his or her potential. It is a basic right, but too often poor children are shut out.

Globally, 72 million children don't attend primary school and another 226 million aren't in secondary school. In addition, hundreds of millions of children attend some inadequate version of school but can't access the type of quality education that they really need to succeed...either the teachers don't consistently show up or there aren't enough books or the kids are too hungry to focus on their lessons.

We know how to address this. Governments must abolish school fees, hire more qualified teachers and provide textbooks and meals in schools. Most important, they must decide that a child's poverty is not an excuse - that they will educate all children regardless of what family or neighborhood they are born into. And they must prioritize education funding in their budgets.

All I have to do is close my eyes and I can imagine the faces of the homeless children that lived in my neighborhood when I was a little girl. They had no hope. Many of them sniffed glue or took drugs to forget the hunger and the cold. But I have also seen how education can alter the course of a child's life forever.

Check out some of these links to learn more about education and how you can help. It's amazing how much difference each person can make, so I hope you will join me in supporting every child's right to a quality education!


The Pies Descalzos Foundation

The Barefoot Foundation

ALAS Foundation

Unicef's Goodwill Ambassador,

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