Oprah opens school in S Africa
TV host Oprah Winfrey has opened a new school. She has funded in
South Africa to give an education to girls from poor families.
U.S. talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, centre, and students cut the
ribbon during the opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy
for Girls in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, South Africa,
Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007. -AP
The school - in the small town of Henley-on-Klip south of
Johannesburg - cost $40m (o20m) to build.Ms Winfrey herself interviewed
many of the 3,500 South African girls from low income families who
applied for an initial 150 places at the school.
The academy selects girls whose family income is less than $700 a
The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy will eventually cater for 450
girls who show outstanding promise but whose families cannot support
At the opening ceremony, Ms Winfrey recalled her own impoverished
childhood and said it was the proudest day of her life: "When you
educate a girl, you begin to change the face of a nation," she declared.
The school incorporates 28 buildings, across a 20 hectare (50 acre)
site, with hi-tech classrooms, computers and science laboratories.
Ms Winfrey had promised to build the school six years ago, while
visiting South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela.
"When I first started making a lot of money, I really became
frustrated with the fact that all I did was write cheque after cheque to
this or that charity without really feeling like it was a part of me,"
she told America's Newsweek magazine.
"At a certain point, you want to feel that connection," she added.
Winfrey, whose own background was disadvantaged, says she regards
education as the door to freedom and she hopes these girls will be among
South Africa's future leaders.
The BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg says that nearly all South
African children now enjoy some form of schooling, but there is concern
about the standard of education in some quarters.
It is reported that around half of all university under-graduates
fail to complete their courses, and a serious skills shortage in the
country continues to hold back the growth of the economy.