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Monday, January 30, 2006

Queen Rania talks to Becky Anderson: “Education is the very foundation of a solid knowledge economy”

You’ve been speaking at the Global Education Initiative here in Davos. I know that education means an awful lot to you. Just talk about that if you want. Tell me why you believe that getting into schools can really help your population in the region?

Queen Rania: Well, absolutely. I mean, the knowledge economy now is the economy of the world. And education is the very foundation of a solid knowledge economy, so… In addition to that, you know, our population is a very young population and that makes us put a very high premium on education. And the Jordan Education Initiative is actually a very innovative educational initiative in the sense that it is not in the traditional context, it involves the public and private sector collaboration; going into the classrooms, updating the curricula, so now we have the curricula in math, Arabic, civics, etc., improving the teacher training, introducing information technology into the classrooms, so it’s really changing the whole way that we teach and the way that we learn, with a great deal of emphasis on encouraging our children to really think and question and debate and be more critical. So it’s very much sort of thinking out of the box when it comes to education.

Let’s move on to the post-attack environment in Jordan. Awful, awful time for Jordan. What do people in the kingdom now feel about that day?

Queen Rania: You know, it was a great, great shock to us, because although we live in a turbulent neighborhood, Jordan has always been a very secure and stable place, and we’d never seen that kind of attack before in our history. So it came as a great shock to Jordanians. At the same time though, what doesn’t kill you kind of makes you stronger, so we saw a great deal of resilience, we saw a great deal of unity among the people and outrage at the attacks and condemnation. So it very much united everybody against extremism and strengthened the resolve towards peace. I am very proud of the way that Jordan has come through this and I think it’s given us a great deal of self confidence that we were able to go through such a traumatic experience and come out of it strong.

I spent some time in Pakistan during and after the earthquake. Have you thought about your trip made recently?

Queen Rania: Well, you know, it was, the devastation really, really touched me. There was so much suffering and so much destruction. However, I was heartened by the way the international community pulled together. And we’re seeing this global consciousness coming out now, after the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and then the Pakistani earthquake. People are reacting. And more importantly, they have the tools to help. So even if you are living half way across the globe you can do something to effect change in the life of a Pakistani individual living in a remote village in Kashmir. So there has been a great deal of reaction, but lot needs to be done, and I know that with the harsh winter months they are going through now, it’s very difficult for them, but beyond just giving them the basic services – food, shelter, etc. – they need to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods; so you had villages completely leveled, so the businesses there, the hotels, etc,. all those need to rebuild, so I think we need to focus in the long run, and not jus