The middle name of Madame Leah Tutu, wife of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, was spelled incorrectly Saturday. It is Nomalizo. (Published 3/8/88)

The children at Glenarden Woods Elementary School gave Madame Norma Lisa Leah Tutu gifts of flowers and songs yesterday.

In return, Tutu -- grandmother, former teacher and wife of Anglican Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu of South Africa -- gave the students a better appreciation for the freedom they have. It was a courageous present from someone who could be jailed for demanding freedom.

"It's good for me to be here, but the reality of life is you are called out sometimes to pleasant places to see beautiful things . . . things that can be fought for," she said to the audience in the school's cafeteria. "Though it is good for me to be here, it is better for me to take back with me this wonderful work of creation, the beautiful children. Wouldn't it be boring if they were all the same color?" {Related story on Page D10.}

Tutu is visiting the United States for the first time since her daughter graduated from Howard University last year. She is the guest of the Prince George's chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and her schedule is full: a tour of a black-owned businesses, a meeting with county elected officials and black presidents and chancellors of state colleges, and a keynote speech at 6 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church of North Brentwood.

Her visit comes just a week after the banning of 17 leading antiapartheid groups in South Africa. Archbishop Tutu and other religious leaders were arrested Monday while marching to Parliament to protest the ban. He was released a few hours later, but officials there are considering charges against him.

Madame Tutu said visiting Glenarden Woods, a school offering special programs for talented and gifted students, gave her the opportunity to see American education at work.

"To me, it's just so tremendous," she said. "I always believed that for any country to be great, it has to treat its young citizens equally in life, and I think that is where the greatness of America is."

Tutu outlined some of the differences in American and South African schools.

In 1954, the same year that the Supreme Court issued an order to desegregate American schools, the Nationalist Party in South Africa introduced segregated Bantu education "to take the blacks out of the system that was obliged to whites."

Calling it "education for serfdom," Tutu said the children are required "to focus on gardening."

Yesterday proved a pleasant diversion from the problems of her country. Tutu clapped along with the children as they sang, and she kissed face after face. But sorrow was evident in her eyes, and during an earlier news conference, she criticized the United States for not doing more to end blacks' suffering in South Africa.

"They are much more concerned with the gold under South African soil than the black man on South African soil," she said.

She also said she didn't expect imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, 69, to be freed in her lifetime.

"There have been so many rumors about him getting out. We've celebrated so often because we thought he was coming out tomorrow," she said. "If he gets out now . . . he's an old man . . . and he won't . . . physically be able to do the things that he could have done all these many years . . . . "

But the people will fight for freedom, she said.

"We know that we're going to be free. They can demoralize us but they cannot kill us, I mean kill our spirit."