Oprah Winfrey and Education
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Worth Emulating! Oprah Winfrey and Girls Education in South Africa.

August 11, 2020


Education has been one of the passionate areas of popular philanthropist, Talk show host and arguably the most influential women in modern day America and the world, Oprah Winfrey has been investing so much into.

Growing up impoverished in the South and then Milwaukee, Winfrey endured many of the challenges that disproportionately affect poor children in America, including family instability, teenage pregnancy, and frequent school changes.

She gives praise to her fourth-grade teacher who she says gave her the intellectual energy to persevere in life.

You did exactly what teachers are supposed to do. They create a spark for learning that lives with you from then on.” she said in 1989 when she was honouring her favourite teachers.

Her experiences as a young girl left her believing in the power of schools to change lives, she has said. “I value nothing more in the world than education,” Winfrey said in 2010. “It is the reason why I can stand here today. It is an open door to freedom.”

Oprah has directed her philanthropy to numerous causes, including education. She has donated to charter schools across the country (America), participated in a collective effort to reduce high school dropouts, and funded scholarships for students at historically black colleges.

Inspired by her own challenged childhood, she launched a school of her own in South Africa that has sent poor girls to elite universities. 

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls – South Africa (OWLAG) is a boarding school for girls, grades 8-12, in Henley on Klip, Gauteng Province, South Africa. 

The project was born out of a discussion she had with the then South African president Nelson Mandela in 2000. OWLAG opened in 2007 and its inaugural class of 72 girls graduated in 2011.

She wanted to help girls who grew up like her, “economically disadvantaged, but not poor in mind or spirit”. She stated when inaugurating the school.

The school teaches the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) curriculum and writes the South African National Senior Certificate.

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