March 25, 2011 / 4:49 AM / 8 years ago

Madonna-backed group ends plans for Malawi school

Madonna touches the chin of a girl who gives her flowers as she arrives to lay the foundation of a multi-million dollar girls' school she is building in Chinkota, outside Lilongewe in Malawi in this October 26, 2009 file photo. A charitable group backed by Madonna has scrapped its plan to build the school in Malawi due to mismanagement, the New York Times reported on Thursday. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - 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 on Thursday.

The organization, 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 Thursday in an e-mail to the center’s members who had contributed to the project, according to the Times.

Berg, a co-director of the spiritual and educational organization Kabbalah Center International in Los Angeles, could not be reached for comment on Thursday 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 of her money to the organization. She has been a frequent visitor to Malawi and has adopted two children from the country.

On Thursday, 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. “Sixty-seven percent of girls don’t go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable.”

A spokeswoman for Madonna could not be reached on Thursday night.

Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte, editing by Anthony Boadle

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