Madonna plans 10 schools in Malawi with new partner

Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:28am IST

U.S. pop star Madonna looks at her daughter Lourdes (L) as she holds her adopted Malawian child Mercy James during a visit to Gumulira village, about 80 km (50 miles) from the Malawian capital Lilongwe, April 5, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files

U.S. pop star Madonna looks at her daughter Lourdes (L) as she holds her adopted Malawian child Mercy James during a visit to Gumulira village, about 80 km (50 miles) from the Malawian capital Lilongwe, April 5, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings/Files

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REUTERS - Madonna on Monday announced plans to build 10 new schools in Malawi with a new partner after mismanagement forced the pop star to scrap her first project there last year.

The singer, who has adopted two children from the impoverished southern African nation, said she hoped the 10 new schools would educate at least 1,000 children a year, half of them girls.

That is double the number of children she hoped to help with her previously planned academy for girls, which was scrapped in March 2011 because of mismanagement and cost overruns.

Madonna said her Raising Malawi charity was teaming up this time with the non-profit group buildOn, which has constructed 54 primary schools in Malawi in the last 19 years.

"I am excited that with the help of buildOn, we can maintain our ongoing commitment to move forward efficiently. We now will be able to serve twice as many children as we would have served with our old approach," Madonna said in a statement.

"I have learned a great deal over the last few years and feel confident that we can reach our goals to educate children in Malawi, especially young girls, in a much more practical way. Constructing smaller schools in partnership with buildOn has restored my faith that we can accomplish what we promised we would," she added.

Madonna's earlier plan to build a state of the art girls school for about 400 girls just outside the Malawi capital Lilongwe collapsed last year, and the board of her Raising Malawi charity was fired. The New York Times said at the time that $3.8 million had been spent on the school with little to show for it.

The singer has lent $11 million to the organization which she co-founded in 2006.

Malawi has more than half a million children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic and is ranked by the United Nations as one of the world's 20 least developed countries.

Madonna's plans for new schools came at the start of a busy week for the singer, actress and director. Her new movie "W.E", which she wrote and directed, opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday, she is performing at Sunday's halftime show at the 2012 Super Bowl, and will release the first single from her upcoming new album on Feb 3.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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