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Shakira appointed to education board by President Obama

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She's known the world over for her incredible hip-swivelling moves and unusual song lyrics, but Shakira's talents extend well beyond a dexterous body and ability to smash the Billboard 100.

The Grammy award-winning star has spent the past 16 years reaching out to children in poverty in her native Colombia and other regions. Now she adds another bow to her arrow, with a prestigious role on Barack Obama's advisory board on education for Hispanics.

Obama named Shakira - or Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, as she is formally known - to the committee yesterday (5 October), along with three other people.

It is hoped the singer will be able to use her extensive knowledge of aid work and working with children to help America's estimated 11 million Hispanic public school students in achieving academic success.

According to White House figures, only around half of this group finish their High School diplomas on time, and those that do complete it are half as likely to be prepared for college as their peers.

Shakira will now join other members of the committee in advising Obama and US education secretary Arne Duncan on ways to turn this situation around.

A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira set up the Barefoot Foundation in 1995. The charity helps around 6,000 children with schools and educational projects in Colombia, South Africa, and Haiti.

In 2005, she became a founding member of Latin America in Solidarity Action, a coalition of artists and business leaders seeking to promote integrated early childhood public policies.

In her UN role, the 34-year-old promotes the expansion and improvement of comprehensive early childhood care and education across the world.

Referring to the appointment of Shakira and the others named with her, Obama said: "I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."

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