Oprah's South African School


Curiosity
#1
When I first saw these beautiful girls all dressed to the ultimate British School System standard - clean hair, shining faces, all happy to be accepted into the special world of monied learning courtesy of Oprah, I had a niggle and a bad feeling - but that is me - and how I feel about Oprah who in my world is a control freak of the worst kind. What was going to happen to these little ones plunged into a new world which rips them from their own home, environment, way of life, and in no way guarantees them a future which will continue after they mature and leave the school...... what then?
Now my worries are being written about by those who are able to observe and hear what is happening.


http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,9294,2-7-1442_2081757,00.html

Oprah's school 'too strict'
11/03/2007 18:39 - (SA)

Gavin Prins

Johannesburg -

The rules at Oprah Winfrey's ultra-posh school at Henley-on-Klip near Johannesburg are apparently so strict they make a reformatory look like a holiday resort.
That's the word from upset parents, who say the school rules make it difficult for them to keep contact with their children.
They would have aired their concerns during a satellite link-up with the chat show queen a week ago, but that was cancelled at short notice by the school's management body.
Meanwhile the school seems to have made the rules even stricter. Until now, the girls could receive visitors every fortnight, but parents can now only visit them once a month.
Frances Mans, foster mother of Gweneth Mulder, said last week she would take her daughter out of the school if the rules were not changed.
'Surely this isn't a prison?'
Cellphones and e-mail correspondence are out of bounds during the week, and girls are only allowed to phone their parents at weekends.
The maximum number of visitors per pupil is four, and visits have to be approved by the school at least two weeks in advance.
Mans said she had to wait at the security gate for half an hour to be signed in when she went to visit her daughter last Sunday.
"It was a nightmare. We had only two hours to see my child. Surely this isn't a prison or an institution?"
The names of visitors must also match those on the security guard's list before guests are allowed in.
Parents are not allowed to smuggle junk food in to the girls past the matrons.
"Then the girls lose points," says Mans.
The girls get points for "good behaviour", which they can exchange at a school shop for clothes and caps.
No treats allowed
"The poor children are not even allowed to have any treats. Their diet is fruit, yoghurt and sandwiches. When they go on holiday for a month in April they'll be stuffing themselves with sweets and chocolates in any case."
Angela Conradie, whose daughter Michelle is at the school, says she's just as upset about the strict visiting times.
"Michelle phones me in tears sometimes, and then I don't know what to say to her," says Conradie.
John Samuels, the executive head of the school, confirmed that only one visit a month would be allowed in future.
This means that if a girl has five siblings, she will only be able to see all of them over a period of three months.
Samuels says he sees nothing wrong with the system.
"We have the security and well-being of the girls at heart, in every respect. They are our priority. If there's too much movement on the premises at the weekend, it disturbs the school spirit."

Oprah should have created a similar school for the impoverished in Chicago - her home town from which she has gained so much - there are children in as much povetry having unschooled lives as the little ones in S.A. But Oprah has her own "way" of getting attention....
 
karrie
#2
More flawed reasoning in how a country should be saved. So many people seem to think we can fix starvation and destitution by rescuing the children, rather than the whole family unit. Sure, kids are cuter, but their mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, are the ones who need to be educated, who need to be empowered. They're the ones who need to start the wheels of change turning so that there is something for these kids to inherit. A legacy for them to grow into. They are not the enemy, to be kept out by Hapro's gates. They are the key. If only some people had as much sense as they have money.
 
Curiosity
#3
Karrie - thanks for validating my worst thoughts

I have felt terrible since I saw the opening of the school and thought - well her intentions are good - but Lady Bountiful intentions hark back to royalty who threw things from on high down to the crowds
not caring anything about the people who received the temporary "treasures".

Caring about a whole town which involves all the people from the eldest to the youngest is sincere help... teaching them to care for themselves..... not dressing a select few girls like English schoolchildren ... expecting them to save the community.... she's simply made it difficult for the little girls to accept their life after they are finished their schooling, unless she intends to send all of them to university... but that won't help the towns where their families live.

It's slavery all over again....and Oprah with all her money doesn't get it.... or doesn't want to.... it's all about her.
 
temperance
#4
Being that I cant know how 'for sure' that the girls are suffering ,I do realize it is a opportunity for them to learn and share (later on ) with their community --I wont judge until I see what happens after the first lot of girls get through ,I think if I was Oprah I would be trying too and I'm sure she helped in her community as well ,I think the feeling is that these young women will be able to spread what they are learning thur out there community ,any thing is better than nothing --I will wait to pass judge ment ---the intentions are real --




"Winfrey has no patience for criticism of people who do try to help in Africa, whether it's DiCaprio making a movie, or Madonna or Angelina Jolie adopting a child. Her eyes, still perfectly ringed with TV makeup, flash as she says that critics of celebrity adoptions "get me all riled up ... I think they can stick it -- you can quote me on that," she says.
"You know why? Because it takes a lot to take another child into your home, a child of a different race. I daresay none of us should stand in judgment of what that is," she continues, exhorting like the preachers of her Mississippi childhood. "It's a miracle when a child gets saved. And I don't care if it's Brad Pitt and Angelina or somebody down in Mobile, Ala., we have not even heard of. When I see them carrying around that little black baby, that is so OK with me. The people who criticized Madonna don't know what the hell they were talking about, because she saved a child."
Winfrey contends that Americans can be only part of Africa's solution and that the continent's leaders must take responsibility "for the welfare of its people." She believes that ultimately "women are going to save Africa" -- and that's where she comes in.
A few weeks from now, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls will welcome its first 150 students. Winfrey built the state-of-the-art school for poor girls with potential; she personally interviewed every finalist (from a pool of more than 3,000 applicants) and plans to teach classes there via teleconference. She speaks derisively of the architects whose bare-bones designs "looked like chicken coops!" Instead, for the girls who were used to sleeping in huts, Winfrey built 28 "aesthetically, beautifully inspiring" buildings full of art.
Winfrey loves to talk about the young students, often with tears in her eyes. The eager girl who walks 2 miles to the library. The frail girl who says she goes without food, "but only three days a week." The earnest girl who lost her father, sister, grandfather and aunt to AIDS in one year. When these girls leave the academy, she believes, they will become the doctors, educators and leaders who will "turn that continent around."
Winfrey speculates, "I perhaps will get criticism about, 'Why didn't you do this for children in America?' "
Her reply: "Because we have a school system in America. ... There's no 12-year-old girl in America that you're going to find crying because this is the last year for her education because nobody can afford to send her to school. You want to give the gift to the person who's going to love it the most."
Winfrey says candidly that when she has tried to help kids in this country, "I have failed." Attempting to mentor a group of girls from her adopted hometown of Chicago, "I took them on ski trips, we had etiquette classes ... you'd teach them how to do their makeup, we'd read and talk about books. And when they went home, they were criticized and beat up because their families said, 'Who do you think you are?' " The failure taught her "you can't just give people money, new homes, new stuff and think that you're giving them a new life." http://www.usaweekend.com/06_issues/...1217oprah.html
 
hermanntrude
#5
Oprah makes me want to puke.
 
tracy
#6
I won't criticize anyone for starting a school for girls who wouldn't otherwise be able to get educated, even if the diet doesn't include sweets or the visiting policies are strict.
 
tamarin
#7
Oprah has good intentions here. I'm not a fan but I do recognize she is trying to do something in a country that really hasn't made much improvement for its people in the post-apartheid era. Crime and rape are rampant in South Africa and it, like most of its neighbours, barely exists as a viable society. I say let her give it a decent shot. It will be an attempt at success in a country that rarely sees it.
 
westmanguy
#8
I don't like what Oprah is doing for a variety of reasons:

1) Only people of black race (racism)
2) Only people of female gender (sexism)
3) She builds the school in Africa, instead of fixing the improvrished neighbourhoods she has at home in her town of Chicago!
4) Spends 40 million on a school for 1000 some students, when that could have created more MODEST schools that could teach MANY people.

Good intentions, but FLAWED!
 
Avro
#9
I like what she did because it wasn't wrong and that is refreshing.
 
Curiosity
#10
I am more concerned about the girls' lives when they graduate or leave that school....

Where will they be going next?
 
tamarin
#11
I think the people of South Africa should praise what the woman has done and spend less time biting her hand. It is an amazing opportunity for those who made the cut. And what they should remember is: the funding isn't infinite. A little more respect is in order.
 
karrie
#12
I don't think anyone is trying to be ungrateful. But she's dealing with other peoples' children. Her wishes for how things should run, or rather, her school's wishes, aren't necessarily the highest priority. I think the African people are starting to see a trend amongst celebrities that, if I were them, would be disturbing, and that is that they eventually will be rescued from poverty by handing their children over to Americans. I know as a mom, I could never give over complete control of my child like that, and have someone tell me when I may or may not see my child or talk to them. I can't see why anyone would expect an African woman to. They are poorer than us, not less than us. They are still moms, and still have the right to be concerned about their children. I think it will be interesting to see if Oprah's school is ultimately too high of a price for these families to be willing to pay.
 
westmanguy
#13
Oprahs "dream" is to see these woman go on and "reform" Africa.
 
wallyj
#14
Oprah does have good intentions,just like our gov't did when they started residential schools for the natives. It's a good thing she has lots of money to settle the inevitable lawsuits that will occur once these children learn all about the great American tradition " litigation".
 
tracy
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by karrie View Post

I don't think anyone is trying to be ungrateful. But she's dealing with other peoples' children. Her wishes for how things should run, or rather, her school's wishes, aren't necessarily the highest priority. I think the African people are starting to see a trend amongst celebrities that, if I were them, would be disturbing, and that is that they eventually will be rescued from poverty by handing their children over to Americans. I know as a mom, I could never give over complete control of my child like that, and have someone tell me when I may or may not see my child or talk to them. I can't see why anyone would expect an African woman to. They are poorer than us, not less than us. They are still moms, and still have the right to be concerned about their children. I think it will be interesting to see if Oprah's school is ultimately too high of a price for these families to be willing to pay.

If the mothers don't like it, they can always take their daughters out of the school. My guess is that they won't. If I was a poor person in South Africa I would definitely be willing to sacrifice whatever it took to get my child an education. Without it, they have nothing to look forward to.

I also don't think this has anything to do with parents losing control or handing their children over to Americans. Oprah isn't taking these children to America. Those that do are usually taking children from orphanages, meaning their parents already chose to give them up or they have died already like BrAngelina's kids' bio moms. I see no problem with that, probably because I'm adopted. I'm very grateful my bio parents made that decision and gave me a better life. I don't see why things would be different in Africa.
 
temperance
#16
I'm starting to see why Celebs are giving to the poorest of nations instead of there back yards(I'm not sure I agree yet ,in Canada and America if someone sees a child doesn't have food, they give ,because we have food to give ,in the other countries there isn't even food to give ,the people are genuinely grateful to receive the very basics ,"Charity starts at home, if you have one "
I think in the "girls school "case at the very least these girls will be able to advocate for their communites ,teach others what the have learn(obtain scholarships) and be able to carry on the education and at least give them hope .
 
Zzarchov
#17
Its her money, her school and the students don't have to go.


The other option is she doesn't build a school and sits on her money living in wealth, like most of us.
 
Curiosity
#18
Zzarchov - "sitting on wealth" is inadvisable when one is as rich as Buffet, Gates and Oprah

They donate to charity for their own reasons - and of course it is promoted by their tax accountants who like to see them have some control over money which would be taxable unless given to charitable
works and foundations.

I am not saying that was Oprah's motivation, but she would rather control where her money goes than to a government agency who would spend it on wasteful government ventures which do little for the "people of the world" let alone for the nation they were supposed to serve.

Taxes do not bring positive publicity either...whereas charitable works do!

I am not slamming Oprah for her open heart creating this supernatural environment for these children who will experience dreams they never before entertained in their lives.... and hopefully their intellect will carry them farther in service to their people after they graduate ... but will they go on to higher education? Will they be able to continue the lifestyle Oprah has shown them? Will they be disappointed with they return to the natural homes and that earlier lifestyle and become frustrated when they cannot make a difference in the lives of their families and their communities?

How can reading literature, studying the famous composers, absorbing the great epics of mankind's historic impact throughout the world....change a simple family for the better through six or eight years of a special schooling, when during that time, there may be been more little ones added to that family.

We have seen it over and over again when the wealthy commence wonderful programs, lifting worthy children out of the slums or toxic environments - so they can become enlightened - only upon achieving maturation - have to return to the original starting point because that is all there is.... and
nobody has shown them how to continue their gifts on their own .... because they have been 'given' the gifts of wealth and leisure by someone else .... and I only ask they are taught independence, self-sufficiency, self-worth and a determined attitude to break away from tradition once the schooling is over and they have to "move back or move on"....

Family ties are very difficult in these cultures where the family rely on each other to contribute and I can't see a large majority of them actually getting into the other world of advantages...simply out of the need for them to be at home contributing to the family as a group.
Last edited by Curiosity; Mar 14th, 2007 at 08:44 AM..
 
temperance
#19
I see your point but is it not better to have learned ,being that these girls will be able to advocate/communicate with other societies and within their own is that not a gift ,--only time can tell , please show me an example of where this has happened ---that children from a very poor country were given a chance to learn in clean proper clothes and rooms and it back fired --it must have help in some way --at least bringing basics back to their community

Do we know what they are being taught ??