Oprah’s girls get 100% matric pass

oprah-text The first group of 72 girls to matriculate
from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership
Academy for Girls have achieved
a 100% pass rate.
(Image: panoramio.com)

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Wilma den Hartigh

The first group of 72 girls to matriculate from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls have excelled in their national senior certificate exams, achieving a 100% pass rate and 188 distinctions.

This is a major accomplishment for the relatively new school, which opened its doors in 2007.

All the pupils from the Academy’s pioneer matric class will be attending university or enrolling for another form of tertiary education. Some pupils are pursuing admission to colleges or universities in the US.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, a girls-only boarding school in Henley on Klip in the south of Johannesburg, was founded by Winfrey, an internationally renowned talk show host and philanthropist.

She established the school as part of her dream to provide educational and leadership opportunities tor academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa.

The Academy is making a significant contribution by providing a world class education to the country’s young girls.

Teachers at the school share Winfrey’s vision of giving girls the opportunities they need to become future leaders in South Africa and the continent.

Since starting with grade seven and eight classes, the Academy has added a new high school grade each year. At the end of 2011, the school expected to have more than 300 girls enrolled from grades seven to twelve.

Bursaries and scholarships

In a media release, the Academy says that several pupils have been awarded full scholarships that cover university fees and residence.

Sharlotte Mkansi received a scholarship from the Department of Mining and Energy and will be studying geology and environmental science at the University of Pretoria.

Nonhlahla Kgwedi was awarded the Gallagher Scholarship for a degree in medicine at the University of Cape Town.

The Anglo-Coal Scholarship went to Magnolia van Wyk for a BA in accounting sciences at University of Cape Town. Juliet Mantso will be studying medicine at Stellenbosch University.

Accounting firm Ernst & Young awarded six scholarships to pupils to cover tuition and residence fees. The company will also provide the recipients with employment on completion of their degrees.

Some learners were awarded merit scholarships from universities, based on their Grade 11 results.

Sue Norval, the director of university guidance for South African universities, helped pupils from the Academy with the paperwork, admission forms and scholarship applications.

Wendy Chang, director of university guidance for the US, assisted pupils who were applying for tertiary institutions based in that country.

Innovative curriculum design

The Academy’s approach to learning is distinctive as it encourages pupils to be critical thinkers and nurtures their curiousity about the world.

The curriculum includes mathematics, natural science and technology, arts and culture, social economic and management sciences, life orientation and leadership, and languages.

Citizenship is an important value and pupils give back to the community through painting schools, reading to disadvantaged children and visiting old age homes.

This initiative teaches the girls how to be sensitive to the needs of others.

Education South Africa, a monthly educational publication distributed nationwide, featured the Academy in 2011. School head Anne van Zyl said in an interview that ‘servant leadership’ is an important value of the school.

“The girls can serve the school from within, in the residences or by leading co-curricular activities such as the computer club, peace group, the library, and community service groups,” Van Zyl said.

Recognition in high places

In 2007, former president Nelson Mandela praised Winfrey for her initiative in establishing the school and investing in the education of South African children.

Former US president, Bill Clinton featured the Academy in his 2007 book: Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, as an example of how to give back to the world.