Madonna abandons her plans to build school in Malawi
Published 26/03/2011 | 05:00
Madonna has abandoned plans to build a boarding school for 400 girls in Malawi despite having spent $3.8m (€2.7m) on the project.
The singer and her co-founder, the charity Raising Malawi, cancelled plans to complete the school amid reports of mismanagement.
The charity has high-profile supporters including the actors Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as Kabbalah Centre International, the Jewish mystical organisation to which Madonna belongs.
"A thoughtful decision has been made to discontinue plans for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls," Michael Berg, a co-founder of Raising Malawi, said. Madonna said she was intent on continuing the charity, which is now being run by a caretaker board that includes the singer and her manager.
"There's a real education crisis in Malawi, 67pc of girls don't go to secondary school," she said.
Troubles with the school surfaced in October, when Philippe van den Bossche, the boyfriend of Madonna's former personal trainer, departed as executive director.
Madonna commissioned a report by the Global Philanthropy Group, which, according to its chairman Trevor Neilson, found a "startling lack of accountability" on the part of the management in Malawi and America.
Both Mr Van den Bossche, and Anjimile Oponyo, a former UN Development Programme worker who led the project in Malawi, were heavily criticised.
It was alleged that there was no land title for the intended site of the school in Lilongwe and that building work had not begun, despite Madonna's attendance at a "ground-breaking" ceremony.
Mr Neilson said he had advised the performer that starting a school from scratch was not the best use of her funds. He recommended providing money to existing educational schemes run by non-government organisations with expertise in the field.
Madonna's connection with Malawi began when she adopted a child from there in 2006, and then another in 2009. (© Daily Telegraph, London)