Saturday, January 06, 2007

Oprah's African Girl's School

I would like to take this opportunity to Congratulate, Oprah Winfrey, for opening the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. These select girls are being offered a quality education in a posh environment by African standards. Let me just point out a few:

1. Dorm Rooms with Extra Large Closets
2. Hair Salon
3. Yoga Studio
4. Indoor & Outdoor Theatres
5. 200 Thread Count sheets
6. Fancy China to eat off

Having lived in Africa, I find such luxuries unnecessary for students. What counts is having your school fees paid, textbooks, uniforms and shoes, a way of getting to the school and being well fed. All these luxuries are not preparing the girls for life in the real world unless Oprah is planning on hiring all of them to work for her. That money could have been spent on educating several thousand African students. However I am still grateful that Oprah has done what she has and I hope that the beneficiaries will appreciate it as well.

Let me say that the students at that school are the envy of many school children on the continent. Many African children can't get a quality education because their families cannot afford the school fees or uniforms. Believe it or not sometimes the school fees are as low as $5. So to be assured of getting a quality education for free is a blessing to the student and the families. Many African children go to school hungry and can't concentrate on their studies because of the hunger pains in their bellies. I lived in Tanzania and studies there showed that schools where students were offered porridge in the morning did better than those that did not.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of Oprah's students. Most of them will no doubt go onto study at Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale and Stanford.

It's no secret that in Africa most families with limited incomes will pour their resources into educating their males over females. Sometimes the girls get married off for bride price in order for their brothers to get an education. So it is uplifting to see this wonderful opportunity being offered to girls.

There is criticism of Oprah on her decision to fund schools in Africa and not the USA. Oprah says that American kids are materialistic. Yes, many are because US society has made them so. What does TV project to them.

At the same time, I disagree with Oprah that all inner city kids want are fancy sneakers and Ipods. Many want a quality education and unfortunately they don't get it and there are no scholarships. I have seen many children of color with dreams of going to College, only to have them shattered when they find out that their parents cannot afford to pay their share of the tuition and fees. Oprah needs to look into helping students in the USA who want to get an education but cannot simply because they can't afford it.

Yes, it is her money and she can spend it as she pleases, but please help kids in the USA as well. They will also appreciate it.

3 comments: said...

You no what? celebrities do things because they want to be seen that they have done something to the society, so doing things in USA would have not made her heard all over the world, but when you help poor especially from Africa all media eyes would be on it. So helping American would not attracted any media attention would have been seen as a normal thing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, she could have lowered the standards a bit so that the girls can look forward to going back home to realitry. It reminds me of a story I was once told about orphans in Kagera, Tanzania used to be one of the worst HIV/AIDS hit regions; a project was helping the orphans with nice swanky looking school bags(apart from uniforms shoes etc), and these were the envy of other poor children who then wished they could be orphans too!

Stellar O. Mamotto said...
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