Grazia Arabia interviews Queen Rania

September 01, 2015

Queen Rania the world’s leading visionary

In an age of social inequality, polarized wealth and political unrest, one visionary monarch continues to inspire, motivate and spearhead her vision for global education and empowerment. Grazia meets the inimitable Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah

What are the greatest barriers to education today IN THE ARAB WORLD and what is your vision for unlocking and dismantling these barriers?

Over the past few decades the region has seen impressive progress in school access and completion. But, unfortunately, we’ve trailed painfully behind in terms of quality and relevance of our education systems.

There are many challenges: overcrowded, underequipped classrooms, poorly trained teachers, and of course out-dated curricula that ignore modern-day market competencies such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, initiative, and more... Because of this, we aren’t graduating students equipped to thrive in today’s world, a world that is characterized by intense global competition and very rapid technological change. No doubt, the escalation of conflict, displacement, and insecurity in many parts of the Arab world has exacerbated the learning crisis in the region.

We must recognize that education in the Arab World is in crisis. But that education is one of the best – if not the best - investment we can make, especially in times of crisis!

There’s a lot we can do. Training teachers tops my list; I’ve said before, good teachers teach, great teachers transform! We need to utilize technology to reach more students with more engaging and interactive curricula. We must bridge the gap education outcomes and labor-market demands… and much more.

Access to quality education can help narrow the widening hope gap in the Arab world for the millions of young people whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict, and the millions more who are reaching out for a better future.

Your work within the field of community empowerment, particularly with the Jordan River Foundation, has been hugely successful. What are the lessons that THE FOUNDATION CAN SHARE WITH OTHER NGOS around the world?  

One thing we learned is that there is so much we can learn from the local communities themselves; and we are still learning.

There is no fail proof approach to community development and no one size fits all. Which is why it’s critical that NGOs listen; policies and plans are great but it’s people who can voice their priorities, they know the full story! With this approach, we give communities the responsibility for their continued wellbeing, which is as important as - if not more important than - giving them resources; it is the only way to truly build capacity and incubate leadership at the local community level.

You continue to be an inspiration to millions of children and adults across the world. What is the greatest piece of advice that you have personally been given in your life that you carry with you to this day and share with others?

When it comes to making decisions, you often get mixed advice: "think it through with a clear head," or "what does your heart tell you is the right thing to do?"... Etc. How do you know which to go to for important decisions? Well, someone once told me that there was a space somewhere right between the two, between thinking and feeling, where all the right decisions were made. I try to go to that place as often as possible...