Amongst all the talk of “mobile synergies” and “user centric experiences” and CEO superstars, one woman in particular stood out at Mobile World Congress.
Not only for her impressive charisma and passion, but for her vision of what a truly mobile world could and should mean for the future of education and the world’s children.
Gracefully taking the podium at MWC in Barcelona on Tuesday, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan dazzled crowds not only with her stunning good looks and soft spoken charm, but also with her campaign to unite the mobile industry towards a goal of educating every child by 2015.
Unveiling the 1GOAL campaign, which aims to hold world leaders accountable to promises of providing primary education to all children by 2015, Queen Rania implored the mobile world to join the effort.
“Imagine the entire population of New York City, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Tokyo un-schooled and unskilled. 72 million. That’s how many children are out of school today around the world,” Queen Rania told attendees.
“With five years to go, it looks like we’ll have 56 million children who will still be cast out of classroom,” noted the queen, “Why? Because we can’t seem to find the $16 billion a year required to fill the financing gap.”
Putting the mobile world to shame, Queen Rania added that ironically, “By 2011, we’ll have spent $16 billion on mobile gambling and not spent it on giving her generation the chance to graduate school.”
Think about that the next time you buy yourself a milk cow on Farmville.
But the mobile world can redeem itself according to the monarch, and the GSMA has already pledged its support to the initiative, saying it will leverage not only mobile messaging but also advertising and even apps to gain more support.
Big telcos like AT&T, Bharti Airtel, Hutchison 3 Group, MTN, NTT Docomo, Orascom, SingTel, SoftBank Mobile, SKT, VimpelCom and Zain are also already backing the 1Goal initiative, but more are needed to attain the goal of signing up the millions of people needed to put any real pressure on political leaders.
“We need all of you to flex your networks’ muscles and show how mega mobile can be,” pleaded Queen Rania to a room of corporate suits.
“I want all of you to cast your coverage wider to the hardest to reach. We need a lot of cheap phones. We need infrastructure in hard to reach places. And we need you to work together to connect all our children to a network of knowledge and ensure them digital justice.”
“Think phone aid. Think phone-anthropy,” she enthused.
Her majesty went on to say that 1Goal was only a step in the right direction, but that what was really needed were huge strides forward in mobile learning and education.
“M-learning can offer opportunities to children too scared to leave their homes,” she said, pointing to successful applications of the program in Bangladesh and Kenya.
“Imagine UN peace-keeping tanks whose ammunition is mobiles loaded with lessons,” she said. “I want you guys to be the institution that makes m-learning massive. I want you to be the people who give our most vulnerable children a teacher in their pocket, a classroom in their hand and a future at their fingertips.”
Now, those are words that certainly ring true.