Rihanna, Macron champion millions for global education

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Singer Rihanna and French President Emmanuel Macron were headlining a conference in Senegal on Friday raising hundreds of millions of dollars for education in poor countries.

Cheers and whistles rang out in the conference center in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, as Rihanna was announced in the audience that included several African heads of state and the World Bank president.

Rihanna tweeted “merci” to thank Macron for co-hosting the Global Partnership for Education conference as part of his two-day trip to Senegal. The host nation was praised for spending 7 percent of its GDP on education.

Macron called education “the only single response” to the extremism and fundamentalism threatening West Africa. He promised 200 million euros ($248 million) for the fund, sharply upping France’s earlier offer, and urged others to pitch in toward the 3.1 billion euro overall goal.

Macron hosted Rihanna at his presidential palace last year after she challenged him on Twitter to contribute to her efforts to fund education in developing countries, notably in conflict and crisis areas.

The singer also urged other Western leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, to contribute at Friday’s conference, and funding promises poured in from multiple countries. The Barbados-born Rihanna’s The Clara Lionel Foundation promotes education and arts globally.

Macron, traveling with his wife, Brigitte, also met Friday with Senegalese President Macky Sall and later was expected to visit French forces serving with the G5 Sahel, a five-nation regional force launched last year to counter growing extremism in West Africa.

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