Director-General Bokova, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you for this important initiative as the UN marks its seventieth anniversary.
Education is very important in my heart. My father grew up in a small village in China. In those days, not many villagers could read. So my father opened a night school to teach them how to read. With his help, many people learned to write their own names. With his help, many people learned to read newspapers for the first time. With his help, many women were able to teach their children how to read. As his daughter, I know what education means to the people, especially those without it. After generations of hard work, China has come a long way in education. I myself am a beneficiary of that progress, otherwise I would never become a soprano and professor of music. I’m following my father’s footsteps by teaching at China Conservatory of Music to help continue China’s success on it.
I want to thank Director-General Bokova and UNESCO for naming me the special envoy for girls and women’s education. I’m truly honoured to work with the UN and do something for global education. I have visited many schools around the world. I’ve seen first-hand how much more we can do on education.
Education is about women and girls. It is important for girls to go to school because they will become their children’s first teachers someday. But women still account for over half towards all in (poor) population and sixty percent of adults who cannot read. Education is critical in addressing such inequalities. In China, the Spring Bud Education Program has helped over three million girls go back to school. Many of them have finished university education and are doing well at their work.
Education is about equality. In poor countries and regions, the number of school drop-outs is astonishing. We call for more educational resources to these places.
Education is about young people. Young people are the future. Education is important because it not only gives young people knowledge and skills, but also helps them become responsible citizens.
As UNESCO special envoy and a mother myself, my commitment to education for all will never change. Many years ago, my father made a small difference in his village. Together, we can make a big difference in the world. I was once asked about my Chinese dream. I said I hope all children, especially girls can have access to good education. This is my Chinese dream. I believe, one day, education first will no longer be a dream, but be a reality enjoyed by every young woman on this planet.