Queen Rania's Speech at the Launch of Global Action Week 2009 - Washington DC, USA

April 22, 2009
Loading the player ...

Thank you, Nita for those kind words.

And a special hello to the fourth graders of Ben Goldberg’s Rock Creek Valley Elementary school who join us today. They’re here to support the launch of the Big Read, because they know how important going to school is… and what a difference it can make in the life of a young person. Thank you for coming.

I’d like to tell you about a group of extraordinary children I met in a Johannesburg library during my trip to South Africa last month.

They came from an impoverished part of Soweto.  For many years, they struggled to afford school, which left many of them on the streets.

Until one day, a lady, called Thakane, offered these children a lifeline.  In her backyard, she began teaching them how to read and write. 

She also taught them how to dance.

Now you might be wondering how dancing, reading and writing are connected.

Well, Thakane, gave these children a taste of how literacy could change their lives... so much so that they wanted to learn in mainstream school.  So to pay for fees, books, pens, and paper, they learnt to perform fun and funky rhythmic dance routines wearing gumboots...yes, gumboots.  Today, they travel all over Johannesburg and entertain people–to great acclaim!

And it’s that kind of commitment that’s brought me here today. Because it shows us that if we give children a chance, they’ll do the rest.

But there are 75 million children around the world, out of school today, who need that kind of chance.  They need...they deserve...and they want an education. 

Because without it, they are more likely to grow up trapped in poverty... more vulnerable to disease...more likely to be unemployed and have low self-esteem.

And girls suffer even more... they’re more at risk from teenage pregnancies... contracting HIV... being victims of violence...and they’re more prone to pass on these burdens to their children. 

An education gives them choices to make changes in their lives. 

That’s what the GCE’s Global Action Week is all about… making the most powerful change in a child’s life: education. 

...So that they can apply for jobs...read the labels on medicine bottles...or use the Internet. So that they can learn more about themselves, build self-confidence, and secure their futures.

That’s why this year, I’m proud to be the honorary chairperson for Global Action Week, and launch the Big Read. 

This week, millions around the world will call on global leaders to give every child, everywhere, a quality education.

Children, teachers, adult learners, campaigners, and parents will gather to read a single book just like this. 

I hope that every paragraph pored over, and every page turned, will inspire a reading revolution and amplify the many voices calling for equal access to school and a quality education for all.

I want all of you to get involved…please read our big book…tell all your friends, family, and teachers about it.

And to politicians, presidents, NGOs, UN agencies, I say it’s time for a new chapter in the global illiteracy story.

Please give 75 million children around the world the happy ending they deserve.

Thank you very much.