Rihanna has released a never-before-seen video highlighting her educational trip to Malawi, a country where half the population lives in poverty and only eight percent of students complete secondary school.
The pop superstar visited the southeast African nation in January to meet with its state of education. “I’m really here to see it. It’s one thing to read statistics, but I want to see it firsthand and find out all that can be done and where to start first,” Rihanna says in the video, sitting alongside former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, a board chair for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE); Hon. Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, in Malawi; and Hugh Evans, the co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen.
The Global Partnership for Education works with more than 60 developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those affected by war. Rihanna formed a partnership with GPE and social advocacy platform Global Citizen in 2016.
The Barbados-born singer, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is an ambassador for GPE and the founder of Clara Lionel Foundation, whose mandate is “teachers and students, advocates and allies, reaching across borders to fight together for the basic right to education.”
The nine-minute video is being shown and discussed in Ottawa tonight at Fairmont Château Laurier for Global Citizen Unplugged, an event to call for Canada to support education on the fringes of the GPE board meeting. Rihanna will not be in attendance.
According to the eight million membership Global Citizen, which believes global poverty can be eradicated by 2030, “despite encouraging progress made since 2000, 263 million children and adolescents are out of school, including 130 million girls who are still more likely than boys to never enroll in school.”
Rihanna is encouraging her fans to support her and other GPE members to help raise the $3.1 billion from donors around the world, including from the major economies that comprise the G20 countries. These funds could help more than 870 million children in 89 countries receive quality education between 2018 and 2020.
In the Malawi video, Rihanna talks with government officials, educators and even teaches a classroom full of kids mathematics. She is told by the Minister that many kids drop out of school because of poverty.
“It’s such a pity that they have to drop out because they are so smart,” Rihanna reflects. “And everybody is learning together and learning at the same pace it seems. It’s sad that has to end for some of them because they could probably do so much if they had the resources to continue and complete.”
One boy talks about often not having food but he doesn’t worry because “I believe in the future when I will be a businessman I will have more food.” He later says “this is a beautiful school with beautiful learners” but there is a lack of chalk and books.
Rihanna helps one child do some addition on the chalkboard, sweetly using her fingers as an aid, and then teaches the entire class, who shout back answers to her. She also plays soccer with the students and leads the girls in an empowering “girls, girls, girls” chant. Many girls are married off at a very young age.
“It’s amazing,” Rihanna says. “The way they learn though, I love that they learn in melody. That’s like my favorite thing because kids, they adopt melody really, really quickly and so if you can use that as a learning tool, I think that’s the most brilliant brilliant thing.”
At the end of the video is the call to action to encourage world leaders to increase education funding to the Global Partnership and help provide that education to millions starting in 2018. The web site is provided.
Rihanna’s influence does work. According to Global Citizen, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office were “inundated with demands to commit to the Education Cannot Wait Fund” after the singer put word out on her social media accounts.
“Just three weeks after Rihanna’s rallying cry on Twitter urging Global Citizens to call up PM Trudeau to make a change, which prompted 185,000 actions, a US$15.3 million commitment was made at the Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 24 by the Canadian government to grant over 98,000 children and youth all over the world desperately needed access to education in emergencies,” according to the press materials.
She made the same plea to the French government, which committed $2 million to the fund. Watch the video below.
This article was originally published on Billboard.