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Friday, August 31, 2012

Her Majesty Queen Rania celebrates birthday with education at the forefront of her work

August 31st, 2012 marked the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah. Her Majesty, in line with His Majesty King Abdullah II's vision for a modern Jordan, has been working towards improving access and quality of education in the Kingdom and around the world. Over the past years, she has also focused on empowering local communities across the Kingdom.

In recognition of Her Majesty's efforts in the education and development fields, Queen Rania was selected, this summer, by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as one of 26 members of the UN chief’s high-level advisory panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

As UNICEF’s Eminent Global Advocate for Children and Honorary Chairperson of UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), Queen Rania participated in several influential conferences like the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Economic Forum, to promote the rights of millions of children to attend school, especially girls.

In 2009, Her Majesty also launched and was named Co-Founder and Global Co-Chair for 1GOAL, a campaign to promote global education in partnership with FIFA, the World Cup South Africa 2010 and the Global Campaign for Education. Her Majesty is also a Board Member of the United Nations Foundation and a supporter of their Girl Up campaign, which helps give adolescent girls in developing countries access to education and opportunity by empowering American girls to help their peers abroad.

Queen Rania continuously uses her high profile online to promote Jordan as a tourist destination, and to support Jordanian initiatives and volunteers. More recently, Her Majesty expressed her support to the Jordanian Olympic team. “Olympian hopes for the Olympic games! We're proud of you”, tweeted Her Majesty, addressing the Jordanian athletes.

Labeled by many as “the online Queen”, Her Majesty has more than 2.2 million followers on Twitter , ranking her as one of the most followed world personalities and leaders according to a recent study done by Burson-Marsteller, "Twiplomacy". In addition to her own website, Queen Rania has more than a million fans on her facebook page, as well as a very successful Youtube channel, where she works to promote issues such as breaking stereotypes and cross cultural dialogue.

Quality, Access, Excellence, and Innovation in Education

In Jordan, Her Majesty also established a number of affiliations that work in the field of education. In 2008, she launched Madrasati, “my school” in Arabic, an initiative that aims at rehabilitating and refurbishing 500 public schools in urgent need of renovation across the Kingdom, thus providing students with a better school environment combined with increased local community involvement.

"Madrasati is based on the simple idea that every citizen has a stake in our children’s education," Her Majesty Queen Rania has said in an op-ed she wrote for the Economist.

Since the launch, Madrasati has thus far reached more than 400 schools, affecting the lives of 135,000 students across the Kingdom. Over the past few years, this public- private initiative has brought together 90 private sector companies, 10 NGOs, and 5 governmental departments.

"We need an educational awakening, a skills-based renaissance to reform our education system and guarantee real reform and development. Education is the first requirement for development,” Her Majesty said at the launch of Phase V of Madrasati Initiative in May 2012, which covers an additional one hundred schools in Irbid area.

Her Majesty also supports the work of the Jordan Education Initiative (JEI), which was launched by His Majesty King Abdullah II in partnership with WEF in 2003. JEI strives to spur education reform and drive innovation in the industry through equipping Jordan’s classrooms with computer technology and cutting edge curricula. JEI has won the 2009 UNESCO King Hamad Ben Isa Al Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education, and its model has been exported to and adapted in several countries.

Aiming to provide students with the opportunity to learn about the world outside the classroom, Queen Rania also established the Children's Museum- Jordan in 2007, which includes more than 150 fun and interactive exhibits, and hands- on displays. The Museum also launched the “A Museum for All” initiative which aims to remove any barriers that may stand in the way of a child’s visit. Through partnerships with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development, the Museum grants free access to public school students and children from lower-income communities and those with special needs. Since its opening, the facility has received 902,636 visitors.

In line with her Majesty's beliefs that teachers are one of the core pillars of the educational system, Queen Rania Al Abdullah lunched The Queen Rania Teachers Academy (QRTA) in 2009 to empower teachers, supervisors and principals with the skills, recognition, and support necessary to excel at the classroom and school. Since its establishment, the Academy have benefited 5580 teachers with its various programs and training courses.

Queen Rania also launched two annual awards known as the Queen Rania Al Abdullah Award for Excellence in Education in 2005, to set a national standard of excellence in teaching, and to celebrate, encourage and honor those who reach it. In a similar vein, Her Majesty also launched the Queen Rania Al Abdullah Award for Distinguished Principals in 2008.

Cherishing Orphans

Aiming to support Jordanian orphans after the age of 18, Her Majesty launched Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans in 2006 to provide orphans with the necessary housing, financial support and scholarships to enable them to graduate from post secondary education institutions across the kingdom.

"Those who are destined to live without parents should be cherished by all," Queen Rania has said in an op-ed.

To date, 1,664 orphans have benefited from Al Aman Fund’s education schemes, while number of graduates reached 805, out of which 280 received job opportunities through the fund. The total number of orphans who benefited from Al Aman Fund’s counseling services and workshops reached more than 4500, while 600 students have benefited from the health insurance offered by the fund.

"Al Aman Fund gave me all the support I needed. I passed the Tawjihi and secured a seat at university. Education is the tool that can help me succeed and overcome challenges in my life and I am so proud of being a university student currently," said one of Al Aman beneficiaries.

Empowering families and local communities

Working in the fields of community development and empowerment, and child safety and protection, the Jordan River Foundation (JRF), established by Queen Rania, has reached more than a million beneficiaries across the Kingdom. JRF is committed to helping local communities across the Kingdom reach their sustainable and income generating , and developments goals through initiating numerous socio-economic projects and long- term community investments that provide multiple employment opportunities, based on the needs of each area.

"JRF believes in a holistic approach, investing in communities, focusing on the needs of whole villages, and inspiring locals to take on the mantel of civil society and work towards the