SA schooling level too low, says Oprah
Pauli van Wyk
Johannesburg - The standard of schooling in South Africa is too low.
This is how Oprah Winfrey responded to a question about what the country can learn from the success of her Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.
Winfrey on Saturday congratulated the first matric class on their 100% pass rate and 188 distinctions.
More than half of the school's 72 matriculants scored an average of more than 75%. All these students plan to continue their studies this year at universities in South Africa and the USA.
Circle of poverty
"This is the beginning of the end of poverty," said Winfrey, referring to the matriculants who received diplomas on Saturday.
"The girls broke the circle of poverty in their homes and from here on they can give back to the community."
Winfrey emphasised that South Africa should invest in leadership so that it can yield dividends, especially in poor communities, later.
The school's success is due to good, capable teachers and that the girls are not wrapped in cotton wool because they come from difficult circumstances, Winfrey said. "I have found that people underestimate disadvantaged children and consequently, the standard lowers.
"It is also indicative of your standards here that you can pass with 30%. Companies cannot operate successfully if they only function at 30 to 40%."