Shakira: An Advocate for Child Literacy 


SEATTLE, Washington — Shakira is well-known internationally for great music and beauty. The Colombian singer gained a global following after the release of her song “Hips Don’t Lie.” She has won three Grammy Awards and 12 Latin Grammy Awards. She has even participated as a judge on the singing competition show “The Voice.” However, in 2020, the World Literacy Foundation is recognizing Shakira as an advocate for child literacy in disadvantaged countries. Shakira is the recipient of the 2020 Global Literacy Award.

The World Literacy Foundation Fights Poverty

The World Literacy Foundation is an organization founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. The organization works to relieve poverty by giving children all around the world access to books, tutoring and literacy resources. As “illiterate people make on average “30% to 42% less than” those who can read, this organization views basic literacy as a necessity for acquiring job skills and climbing out of poverty. Currently, one out of every five people cannot read or write. That means around 750 million adults in the world cannot read.

The organization has been working on rewriting these statistics. More than 315,000 children and their families in Asia, Africa, Australia, the U.S., the U.K. and Latin America have received services from the World Literacy Foundation. Those services include providing reading materials, tutors and curriculum materials. The foundation also started a “Sun Books” library in Uganda that utilizes solar-powered tablets to give children access to e-books. As the organization has grown, it has launched a World Literacy Summit to bring together literacy advocates and volunteers around the world. The first summit was held in 2012. It was at the 2020 World Literacy Summit that Shakira received the 2020 Global Literacy Award in recognition for her works as an advocate for child literacy.

Shakira: Founder of Fundacion Pies Descalzos

In 1997, Shakira, as an advocate for child literacy, founded the nonprofit Fundacion Pies Descalzos, also known as the Barefoot Foundation. The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of education in Colombia and Latin America by creating an innovative infrastructure for schools and providing helpful training for teachers. Barranquilla, Colombia, which is Shakira’s hometown, was the destination of the foundation’s first school. There have since been two other schools built, all managed by the foundation itself.

The Schools of Fundacion Pies Descalzos

In total, the three schools have helped more than 3,900 students. There is a dropout rate of 1% and a 0.04% rate of teen pregnancy. At least 80% of students go on to higher education. At these schools, students are learning everything from socio-emotional skills to math and science. In addition to these three schools, the organization partners with other educational advocacy nonprofits across Latin America. Despite a busy life with many commitments, Shakira is a true advocate of child literacy and continues to work with the foundation through volunteering, donating and rallying the people with moving speeches.

Although around two billion people in the world will have trouble reading a complete sentence, there are many working to change that fact. Organizations such as the World Literacy Foundation and Fundacion Pies Descalzos and international stars like Shakira are helping bring attention and support to the global illiteracy problem. With stars like Shakira as advocates for child literacy, the issue of global illiteracy becomes much more manageable.

– Tiara Wilson
Photo: Pixabay


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