Michelle Obama and daughters head back to Africa

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia are leaving Sunday for Africa, where they will promote girls’ education in Liberia and Morocco before going to Spain.

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Their first stop is Liberia, where the first lady will meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and have a discussion with local teenage girls, moderated by actress Freida Pinto.

The recent Ebola outbreak in Liberia created even more challenges for girls’ education in the West African country, where just one-third of girls are enrolled in secondary education. Liberia ranked second only to South Sudan in the share of primary school-age girls who aren’t enrolled in school, a global report by UNESCO said earlier this year.

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Actress Meryl Streep then will accompany Mrs. Obama in Marrakech, Morocco, on Tuesday for another conversation with adolescent girls. The North African country’s rates for girls’ education are well below regional averages, U.S. officials told reporters Friday, with a high dropout rate for girls after primary school.

In Madrid, the first lady on Thursday will speak about the Let Girls Learn initiative, launched by her and President Barack Obama last year to encourage developing nations to educate the more than 62 million girls worldwide who don’t attend school.

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President Obama is also scheduled to visit Spain shortly after the first lady. His trip will focus on security cooperation, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Friday.

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