Queen Rania's Speech at the 1GOAL Campaign: Education for All Launch - Rome, Italy

October 22, 2009
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Grazie mille, Milly!

Someone once said, “It’s not the glitz of the uniform that matters, it’s the spirit that shines within”. Well, nowhere is that light brighter or that spirit stronger than here in Italy, a country synonymous with world class football and world cup titles…where the Azzurri are masters of their art.

We’re here today to tap into that famous Italian passione on behalf of 75 million children sent to the sidelines not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because we haven’t played by the rules. We haven’t given them what should be their birthright: an education.

For millions of children, their game’s over before it’s even started...children like Naseer.

Naseer is twelve. He lives in Somalia. Born into a poor family, primary school was a luxury he couldn’t afford. After his father died, he and his four siblings survived on what their mother made from selling vegetables. But she couldn’t make enough money to feed her family, so Naseer began shining shoes, and graduated… to washing cars. On a good day, he makes about three euros.

“I don’t want to work,” he whispers, “but if I don’t work, we don’t eat.”

“If I had a choice, I would go to school. Every time I see children my age going to school, I feel bad and wish I was going also.”

When I grow up, I hope I can become a teacher and help children like me. I pray that, someday, I will be able not only to help my family, but others as well.”

Tell me this…if Naseer, chastised by the chains of poverty, is already dreaming of helping others, why aren’t we, with our relative comforts, actually helping them?

We know education works. It isn’t a short-term fix, it’s a long-term solution.

In a world reeling from destitution, disease, and economic downturn, education can be a panacea.

It’s been nine years since the leaders of the world made a pledge of education for all.

But our leaders and politicians would rather attend aid conferences than act on aid pledges. Rather look to others than look to themselves.

1GOAL says it’s time to blow the whistle and survey this sorry state of play…because in the game of education, there is no extra time. Children’s childhoods are now.

1GOAL is about us –you and me and millions of football fans – taking possession of this issue and moving it down the field.

As the world’s eyes turn to stadiums in South Africa in 2010, we need 30 million signatures to show our leaders we’re serious about getting children into schools.

And we need your help… Italy’s help.

We need you to leverage your networks and put your talents to work for 1GOAL.

We need you to turn 1GOAL into the 1CHANCE these children so desperately deserve.

And we can do it… with the spirit of the Azzurri and the passione of the Italian people.

So, let’s start now…and reveal the strength of spirit that shines within 75 million children.

Grazie mille.