Queen Rania highlights Madrasati project at opening of Clinton Global Initiative

September 26, 2008

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – New York) Sharing a stage with some of the most recognized figures in development, including former US President Bill Clinton and his Vice President Al Gore, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and rock star Bono, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah took the opportunity to shed light on the value of public-private partnerships and investments in education, at the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York, Wednesday. Highlight her recent Madrasati (“My School”) initiative as successful and dynamic even in its initial phase, the Queen spoke about why education is such an important and necessary topic. “We spend a lot of time talking about the world’s ills… the one tool we have for dealing with these issues is education,” she said. Jordan, the Queen acknowledged, is a resource poor country with many rundown buildings. While access to education is high in the Kingdom, “we wanted to move to reforming education,” she said, “Our government was struggling with priorities – do you put technology in classrooms with broken windows? How do you teach children creativity in drab buildings with cracked walls? How do you encourage them to think independently when the classes are overcrowded?” The Queen said that despite the initial resistance from the key stakeholders, “five months into it everyone has realized that [improving educational opportunities is] everyone’s job… it’s a national responsibility and a social responsibility.” She stated that the partnerships that have come out of Madrasati, which so far include 45 private companies, three government departments, and 15 NGOs working together, have improved the relationship between the government and the private sector. Referring to education as “the best immunization that we can give mother earth for the world’s ills”, the Queen stressed that “it is a shot that we can afford.” Her Majesty compared the $11 billion price tag to the amount of money Europe spends for ice cream each, and noted that it is equivalent to about 10 percent of NATO’s military budget. “If we spend this on education, imagine the kind of peace, security, and prosperity that you can buy,” she said. There were over 60 heads of states, five Nobel laureates, hundreds of CEOs, leaders of non-governmental organizations, representatives of philanthropic groups and committed citizens gathered at the four day forum. In his opening remarks, President Clinton noted that in the last four years, there have been over one thousand commitments made at CGI, totaling more than $30 billion, and have reached out to over 200 million people. The trademark commitments that have emerged from his high profile gathering have served to secure access to improved education for more than 8 million children, improved health services for more than 11 million people worldwide and have helped to alleviate malnutrition for more than 42 million children. He said the gathering was a testament to the “power and potential of what we can do together.” ###