First lady Melania Trump visited a school in Malawi that has struggled with its student-teacher ratio and donated more than 1.4 million textbooks Thursday.
A crowd of singing children welcomed Trump to Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, where she observed lessons conducted in Chichewa and English — each class containing well over 100 students.
Schools in the impoverished nation have seen a drastic increase in student enrollment since Malawi introduced free primary education in 1994, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The large class sizes have resulted in poor student performance, especially literacy.
More than 8,000 children attend the school visited by Trump. The school, which receives assistance from USAID, employs only 75 teachers. Earlier this year, the Trump administration sought to cut USAID’s budget by 33 percent but faced bipartisan resistance.
“I wanted to be here to see the successful programs that [the] United States is providing the children and thank you for everything you’ve done,” Trump said during the donation ceremony, according to the Associated Press.
“Meeting those children and understanding their different way of life is why I wanted to travel here,” she later added.
Trump also distributed “Be Best”-emblazoned soccer balls and school supplies. She later met with Malawi’s first lady Gertrude Mutharika to discuss the importance of education.
On her way to the U.S. ambassador’s residence, white protesters held a sign that said, “Welcome to Malawi. #NOTASHITHOLE!” in reference to the president reportedly using the term earlier this year while speaking about immigrants coming from several countries, including African nations.
President Trump, who remained in Washington, applauded his wife for her work.
“Our country’s great First Lady, Melania, is doing really well in Africa,” he wrote. “The people love her, and she loves them! It is a beautiful thing to see.”
Our country’s great First Lady, Melania, is doing really well in Africa. The people love her, and she loves them! It is a beautiful thing to see.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2018
The first lady is touring four countries in Africa this week as part of her “Be Best” initiative which focuses on the well-being of children.
She visited Ghana on Tuesday and Wednesday, touring a Ghanian hospital, having tea with first lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and visiting a former slave-holding facility.
Trump flew to Kenya later in the day Thursday and will stop in Egypt before returning to the U.S.