Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Singer Shakira addresses Oxford

Shakira's charity has built schools in areas of Colombia affected by civil war

The singer Shakira has spoken of her shock at being asked to occupy the same Oxford Union stage as Winston Churchill and the Dalai Lama.

The Colombian artist, who has run her own charity since she was 18, used her speech on Monday night to stress the importance of education for all.

The 32-year-old said it was a privilege to be speaking in front of the 400 Oxford University students.

She kept them waiting for 20 minutes before her half-an-hour appearance.

Many of the students had queued in the rain for more than an hour to catch a glimpse of the singer.

'Hip shaking'

The Grammy Award winner said: "It is a privilege to be here today, that you have afforded me this opportunity for me to speak to you."

To laughter and mock booing from the audience, Shakira, known for her dancing, added: "I must admit I am somewhat mystified as to why you are here, as there won't be any singing or any hip shaking whatsoever.

"So how do I go from Barranquilla, Colombia, to occupy the same stage as Newton and Churchill? Lord knows I'm no Mother Teresa."

Shakira's charity Barefoot has built five schools in parts of her country hit by civil war, providing uniforms, equipment and food to 750 children.

She is also a Unicef goodwill ambassador.

She urged the students to use their intelligence for the greater good, saying: "From your minds, ideas will sprout that will change the world."

She said it would be through the "democratisation of education" that change in the world can come about, speaking of the importance of access to learning for all.

"I was born in Colombia, growing up in the developing world where education is perceived as a luxury, and not as a birth right," she added.

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