UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the visit of H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan to the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem.
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Located in one of New York City’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the school defies the worst characteristics of schools in poor American communities – low enrolment, high drop-out rates and general underachievement.
In fact, the Leadership School has been ranked in the top 4 per cent of New York City high schools. Even more impressive, every graduate of the school for the past nine years has been accepted into college.
To recognize the school – and to mark the appointment of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan as the Honorary Global Chair of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) – H.M. Queen Rania and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman visited the students yesterday.
After a tour that included an eighth-grade science class and an 11th-grade choral recital, H.M. Queen Rania and Veneman addressed about 100 of the students. They encouraged the girls to appreciate their education and to help promote universal access to schooling for their global peers.
“Providing quality education to girls is a sound investment that helps build a brighter future for their communities and their countries,” said Veneman.
H.M. Queen Rania told the girls that education was, for her personally, “my compass, my springboard, my sword.”
The queen, who is also UNICEF’s Eminent Advocate for Children, said she was familiar with stories about social and economic circumstances causing girls to skip school, engage in substance abuse or petty crime, or have children while they are still children themselves.
“That’s not your story,” she said emphatically.
‘1Goal: Education for All’|
As Honorary Global Chair of UNGEI, H.M. Queen Rania lends her support to an international network of partner organizations dedicated to achieving gender equality in education.
She and Veneman took questions from the student audience at the Harlem school and then concluded their tour with a visit to the school library, where H.M. Queen Rania showed students how to sign up in support of the ‘1GOAL: Education for All’ initiative.
The project was launched with FIFA, the world governing body of football, in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Its aim: to collect signatures from footballers and their fans worldwide in support of the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to primary education by 2015.