Global education advocate and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira visited the Max Payne “Hand in Hand” School for Bilingual Education in Jerusalem on Tuesday, meeting with students to talk about the power of education.

She met with Jewish and Palestinian students who study together at the school, which uses bilingual education as a tool to help build peace, coexistence and equality. She toured the groundbreaking project, where every class is taught by two teachers (one Jewish, one Palestinian) and in two languages (Arabic and Hebrew).

Shakira said: “My visit to Max Rayne school today here in Jerusalem – an inspirational school where students learn together, across all divides, speaking both Arabic and Hebrew, learning and playing together without difference— only reminded me, once again, that the most crucial decisions we can make for a better tomorrow concern how to raise and educate our children.”

“I’m convinced, as many people are, that investing in education is the best strategy for peace and global stability, and the earlier, the better,” said Shakira. “Early investment, early childhood nutrition, and basic health care from birth through the age of 6 are essential for a child to develop the actual physical means to learn: to perform better in class, but also better throughout life.”

The visit to Israel is part of Shakira’s ongoing work as an advocate for global education, calling for the expansion and improvement of comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

According to UNESCO’s 2011 Global Monitoring Report, the number of children out of school is falling too slowly. Although progress has been made with an additional 52 million children enrolled in primary school since 1999, there are still 67 million primary-school age children out of school globally today.

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