Madonna's Malawi school for girls a fail

Madonna in Malawi
Madonna arrives at the Raising Malawi initiative's Mphandula Childcare Center, April 8, 2010, in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Getty

(CBS) Few would argue Madonna's skills on the stage as a performer, but her abilities in the area of third world development appear to be lacking.

The New York Times reports Friday that the pop superstar's charity project to build a $15 million school for girls in the impoverished African nation of Malawi has not only failed miserably, but managed to waste $3.8 million in the process.

"Raising Malawi," as the education development project co-founded by Madonna is known, was grossly mismanaged by it's board of directors, who have now been dismissed and replaced by a care-taker group including the Material Girl herself, the Times says.

Pictures: Madonna in Malawi

Madonna donated $11 million of her own money to co-found the organization with Michael Berg, the co-director of the mystic Jewish movement known as Kabbalah, of which Madonna is a member.

A global philanthropy pro, Trevor Neilson, was recruited by Madonna in November 2010 when the singer realized her organization was being poorly managed. According to the Times, Neilson and his Global Philanthropy Group warned Madonna that trying to build a multi-million dollar school for about 400 girls in a desperately poor nation was a poor use of resources.

"Despite $3.8 million having been spent by the previous management team, the project has not broken ground, there was no title to the land and there was, over all, a startling lack of accountability on the part of the management team in Malawi and the management team in the United States," Neilson tells the Times.

He added that his group has thus far been unable to figure out "exactly what happened to all of that $3.8 million. We have not accounted for all the funds that were used."

Some of it, according to the newspaper's report, went to funding golf club memberships, private homes and vehicles, and lofty salaries for Raising Malawi's staff in Africa.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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