From the Mercury, Associated Press writer Raphael Tenthani attended the school's dedication.
Madonna marked the start of construction of her school for girls in Malawi by planting a tree at the planned site of the $15 million school. The 51-year-old celebrity arrived in the impoverished southern African country on Sunday accompanied by her four children — daughters Lourdes and Mercy, and sons Rocco and David.
Madonna adopted Mercy from Malawi earlier this year and adopted David from the country in 2008.
The singer was dressed in a dark summer dress and a colorful shawl during Monday's ceremony in the town of Chinkhota, some six miles (10 kilometers) from the capital, Lilongwe. Together with eldest daughter Lourdes she planted a Moringa tree, a hardy tree with edible leaves.
"If this school is a success — with God-willing it will be — we will replicate it not only in Malawi but in other parts of the world as well," she said.
The new school will be called the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls and will open by 2011 and educate 500 students, said its future principal, Anjimile Mtila-Opponyo. It will be similar to the school built by TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey in South Africa.
Mtila-Opponyo said the curriculum will emphasize science and mathematics.