BLANTYRE, Malawi – Former Material Girl Madonna has built 10 primary schools in Malawi this year, her charity announced Friday, December 28.
Two years after abandoning a $15 million girls academy, the pop diva said projects this year would educate 4,871 children in the tiny southern African country.
The projects were carried out by her charity Raising Malawi and the global non-profit buildOn.
“I am overjoyed that my commitment along with buildOn’s to help educate the children of Malawi has come to fruition,” Madonna said in a statement issued by her charity.
“In a country where girls have little opportunity for education, it’s additionally inspiring to know that more than half the students attending will be young girls.
“The fact that more than 4,800 children in Malawi will get to go to school next year is a tremendous step forward for their individual growth and the growth of Malawi,” Madonna added.
The schools, which had been scheduled to be built over 18 months, were completed six months ahead of schedule.
The charity said six of the schools are already in use and all 10 would be up and running in January 2013 for the first day of school in the New Year.
Madonna is no stranger to Malawi.
In 2006 she adopted toddler David Banda under controversial circumstances and two years later adopted another child, Mercy James.
Her charity, Raising Malawi, has poured millions of dollars in support of orphanages and a network of orphan care service providers.
Malawi is ranked by the UN Human Development Index as one of the world’s 20 least developed countries and 39 percent of its 13 million citizens live below the poverty line, on less than a dollar a day.
UNICEF estimates that only 26% of boys and 16% of girls complete primary school because of poverty and the long distances travelled to reach schools.
Madonna controversially stopped the construction of the state-of-the-art $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls-RMAG- in Chinkhota village, 15 kilometres from the administrative capital Lilongwe, after it was mired in allegations of financial mismanagement.
The academy, styled on the lines of the one built by TV host Oprah Winfrey in South Africa, had been meant to offer 500 scholarships to girls from poor backgrounds and groom them into future leaders.
In abandoning the project, Madonna said the academy would not be adequate as two-thirds of the girls were not educated beyond primary school. Instead, she said, she wanted to reach “thousands and not hundreds of girls” by constructing several schools. – Rappler.com