Rihanna began her role as Global Ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education in January when she traveled to Malawi in southeastern Africa. The “Work” singer became an ambassador last September when she was stunned by the statistics of refugee children living in countries where war and conflict has restricted their access to education, She visited Muzu Primary Schools and Lilongwe Secondary School on the outskirts of the capital city, Lilongwe. She observed a debate on arranged marriage, a biology class, and even taught a math lesson.

Rihanna met with students, government officials, education experts, and teachers to discuss the education and infrastructure challenges its citizens face every day just to get an education. Teachers, at times, must teach classes of 100 students, which hinders their learning and the ability to track progress. Many students come to class without having eaten and schools do not provide meals. Half of Malawi’s population lives below the poverty line and make an average of 90 cents a day. The singer says, “It’s such a pity that they have to drop out because they are so smart and everybody is learning together and learning at the same pace it seems. It’s sad that has to end for some of them because they could probably do so much if they had the resources to continue and complete.”

The Barbados native didn’t become an education ambassador overnight. She created the Clara Lionel Foundation, named after her grandparents, in 2012 as a form to give back to the world and advocate for health, education, and arts throughout the globe. The foundation provides grants to schools in Barbados and awards scholarships to students from Barbados, Haiti, Cuba, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, and Brazil who attend college in the U.S.

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