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Madonna changes Malawi school plans

Madonna has abandoned her plan to build a girls-only school in Malawi as a result of logistical problems and other concerns.

But the new leader of her project said the pop star instead plans to build many more schools with other educational groups.

Trevor Neilson said part of the problem with Raising Malawi’s initial plan was that local villagers laid claim to the land the government had selected for the school.

He said Madonna’s new strategy would allow Raising Malawi to educate “10 times” the children initially targeted.

The singer, who has adopted a boy and a girl from Malawi, had initially planned to build a school for girls, most of whom do not get the opportunity to go to school.

The school was to be on an approximately 117-acre plot of government land near the capital, Lilongwe. But soon after the location was announced, several local villagers claimed they owned the land and the government was forcing them off of it.

“Obviously, Raising Malawi didn’t know anything about this, and was surprised, yet Raising Malawi paid those people over 130,000 dollars (£80,697), which in Malawi is a lot of money,” Mr Neilson said.

Even after that, he said, Raising Malawi never got title to the land. In addition, he said the school was being built in an area where there were not many children, and too much effort was being put into the design of the building.

“Madonna was shocked to find out how much time and money had been spent on architecture,” he said, though declining to give an exact estimate, simply saying “Too much!”

Instead of creating a Raising Malawi school, the new plan is to use Raising Malawi’s resources to partner with other non-governmental organisations already working to provide a better education in Malawi.