Michelle Obama visits Liberia to push for children to stay in school

Michelle Obama has told girls in Liberia to fight to stay in school, as she visited the west African country where the vast majority drops out due to financial pressures. Photograph: Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images

US first lady travels to Africa with her daughters, Malia and Sasha, to promote education

The US first lady, Michelle Obama, has visited a leadership camp for girls in Liberia where she urged teenagers in one of the world’s poorest countries to keep fighting to stay in school.

With her own teenage daughters joining her, Obama told the girls she was “just so thrilled to be here with you”.

“I’m here to shine a big bright light on you,” she said.

Education for girls is the central theme of the first lady’s trip, which also includes stops in Morocco and Spain. She was welcomed on her arrival in Liberia with a red carpet and traditional dancers.

In connection with the first lady’s visit, USAid announced up to $27m in funding in Liberia programming for Let Girls Learn, an initiative launched by Michelle and Barack Obama last year.

The first lady is traveling with her mother and daughters Malia, 17, who recently graduated from high school, and Sasha, 15.

Liberia was battered by civil wars between 1989 and 2003. Ebola swept the country in 2014, killing more than 4,800 people. Schools were closed for months.

Michelle Obama washes hands with students at the RS Caulfield School girls center in Margibi County, Liberia.
Michelle Obama washes hands with students at the RS Caulfield School girls center in Margibi County, Liberia. Photograph: Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

The country was founded as part of an effort to resettle freed American slaves and has deep ties to the United States.

The country’s oldest vocational high school, located in Kakata, is named for African-American civil rights activist Booker T Washington.

The school suspended mid-term exams scheduled to start Monday “to allow the students to give Mrs Obama a rousing welcome to appreciate what the United States has done for us”, principal Harris Tarnue said.

“She will be a real inspiration to the young girls around here,” he said.

Obama’s previous Africa visits as first lady included Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Senegal and Tanzania.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com