Madonna-backed group ends plans for Malawi school

Los Angeles – A charitable group backed by pop star Madonna has scrapped its plan to build a school for impoverished girls in Malawi due to mismanagement, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The organisation, Raising Malawi, has ousted its board of directors and replaced its members with a new set of officials that includes Madonna and her manager, the Times reported.

“A thoughtful decision has been made to discontinue plans for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, as it was originally conceived,’’ Michael Berg, co-founder of Raising Malawi, said yesterday in an email to the centre’s members who had contributed to the project, according to the Times.

Berg, a co-director of the spiritual and educational organization Kabbalah Centre International in Los Angeles, could not be reached for comment last night.

The Times said the effort to build the Malawi school had collapsed after spending $3.8 million on the project and its executive director left in October amid criticism of his management style and cost overruns.

Madonna lent $11 million (R75.6 million) of her money to the organisation. She has been a frequent visitor to Malawi and has adopted two children from the country.

Yesterday, the singer issued a statement to the Times saying she was still intent on working with Raising Malawi.

“There’s a real education crisis in Malawi,’’ she said in the statement given to the Times. “67% of girls don’t go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable.’’

A spokesperson for Madonna could not be reached last night.

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