Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012

Juan Manuel Santos

I had the opportunity to work with President Juan Manuel Santos, through the Barefoot and ALAS foundations, toward increasing access to quality education and early-childhood-development programs in Colombia. He has shown an unwavering commitment and has made this one of the priorities of his administration. With the launch of the De Cero a Siempre (From Zero to Forever) national strategy, President Santos, 60, aims to double the number of children under 5 who receive early education, from 600,000 to 1.2 million. This ambitious plan shows that in spite of his focused battle against Colombia's guerrillas and other armed bands, he has not forgotten the most important battle of all — the fight against poverty and inequality. The President and I agree that improving education in our country is the best way to mitigate poverty, inequality and violence. Education allows all of us the possibility of a better nation, with a more productive workforce, a better-informed citizenry and a more peaceful people.

A leader is someone who understands the people's vision of a better tomorrow and is willing to guide them there. In Colombia, we dream of a future of progress, prosperity and peace. By focusing on education, I believe President Santos is on the right track to make that dream a reality.

Shakira is a singer and philanthropist