Me­la­nia Trump donates 1,4m books to Malaw­ian school

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

ME­LA­NIA Trump spent Thurs­day in south­ern Africa pro­mot­ing the work of a US in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment agency whose fund­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has twice pro­posed slash­ing by nearly a third. Law­mak­ers es­sen­tially ig­nored those re­quests.

Mrs Trump toured class­rooms at Li­longwe’s Chipala Pri­mary School, which gets text­books and other ed­u­ca­tion as­sis­tance from the US Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment.

A batch of 1,4 mil­lion books do­nated on Thurs­day brought to nearly 10 mil­lion the to­tal Malawi has re­ceived in re­cent years un­der USAID’s na­tional read­ing pro­gram, of­fi­cials said. Malawi’s ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter said the part­ner­ship had “sig­nif­i­cantly” im­proved stu­dent lit­er­acy.

But the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion sought a roughly 30 per­cent cut in fund­ing for the State Depart­ment and USAID in its first two bud­gets. Wide­spread bi­par­ti­san op­po­si­tion in Congress averted the re­duc­tions.

But none of that was up for dis­cus­sion as Mrs Trump vis­ited with happy school­child­ren and their teach­ers in the Malaw­ian cap­i­tal.

“I wanted to be here to see the suc­cess­ful pro­grammes that (the) United States is pro­vid­ing the chil­dren and thank you for ev­ery­thing you’ve done,” the first lady said at a book do­na­tion cer­e­mony in the school li­brary.

She had just fin­ished tour­ing sev­eral out­door class­rooms. Chipala has more than 8 500 stu­dents but just 77 teach­ers, for a ra­tio of 111 stu­dents per in­struc­tor, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. gov­ern­ment. With just 22 class­rooms, many stu­dents are forced to take their lessons out­doors, seated shoul­der to shoul­der in their uni­forms on loose, red dirt.

Mrs Trump watched sev­eral teach­ers con­duct lessons for the equiv­a­lent of se­cond- and third-graders. “Meet­ing those chil­dren and un­der­stand­ing their dif­fer­ent way of life is why I wanted to travel here,” Mrs Trump told US Em­bassy em­ploy­ees at a gath­er­ing at the US am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence. Her own 12-year-old son at­tends a pri­vate school in Mary­land.

“I was heart­ened to spend time with the stu­dents and was hon­oured to do­nate school sup­plies and soccer balls,” she said. The soccer balls, along with tote bags do­nated for the teach­ers, sported the logo of “Be Best,” the child well­be­ing ini­tia­tive Mrs Trump launched this year.

The US first lady was joy­ously wel­comed at the air­port, with singing and danc­ing by a troupe of women and scores of school­child­ren wav­ing African and Malaw­ian flags. — AFP

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