Friday, February 24, 2012

Madonna school plan baffles Malawi

Madonna holds her adopted son David Banda in her arms as her daughter Lourdes, looks on, at the Home of Hope orphanage in Mchinji, Malawi.

Education officials in Malawi have attacked Madonna for unveiling plans to build ten schools in the country, a year after she was forced to scrap a project to build a girls' academy.

Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi, announced last month that her Raising Malawi charity was teaming up with non-profit group buildOn to create the ten schools instead.

But John Bisika, Malawi's national secretary for education, science and technology, said: ''We have had no written or verbal communication. We just read about it in the papers … For someone to go to the papers and say, 'I'm building schools', without telling the government, I find it a strange way of working.''

The singer's initial plan to construct a $15 million school for about 400 girls just outside the capital, Lilongwe, was scrapped last year without a brick being laid. The board of Raising Malawi was fired.

Mr Bisika said: ''She told us she would build an academy for girls. We gave her land and had a ground-breaking ceremony. The next thing we hear is the plan has been abandoned.''
A spokeswoman for Madonna disputed the claim there was a lack of consultation, showing a letter addressed to Malawi's education minister from the Global Philanthropy Group, which manages Raising Malawi.