Oprah Winfrey defends record: I've made mistakes, but am proud of school's success

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FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oprah Winfrey acknowledged in a newspaper interview published Saturday that she has made several mistakes at her elite South African school, but said she remains proud of its success.

The recent expulsion of four girls and suspension of three others was the second scandal to hit the Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in 2007 to groom bright children from deprived backgrounds for a brilliant career. A dorm matron is currently on trial accused of abuse and sexual assault.

"I have made several mistakes and one of them was being overprotective of the girls, which has led to an impression that the school is isolating them from society," Winfrey was quoted as saying in the Weekend Argus.

She said she had also underestimated the extent of homesickness among girls at the boarding school.

Last month, four students were expelled and three others suspended. South African media at the time said they were accused of trying to force students into relationships and to engage in sexual contact.

Winfrey herself hasn't given details of the misconduct. But she said in the newspaper interview that it was "insulting" that the family of one of the expelled girls had complained to the press even though she had been warned before about her behavior.

"Those girls in their own testimony during the (disciplinary) hearing said they knew they were breaking the rules and that they deliberately broke the rules," the talk show queen was quoted as saying.

The institution just outside Johannesburg opened with a blaze of publicity in January 2007 with about 150 girls in 7th and 8th grades. The Academy is expected to grow by one grade each year until it reaches full capacity in 2011, with approximately 450 girls in grades 7 through 12.

Winfrey poured $40 million into the 28-building campus, which is spread across 22 lush acres. It has computer and science labs, a library, theater and wellness center, all protected by strict privacy. Each girl lives in a two-bedroom suite -- a far cry from their humble surroundings at home.

It's the fulfillment of a promise Winfrey made to former South African President Nelson Mandela and aims to give poor girls a quality education and prepare them for leadership positions in a country where state schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of white-minority rule.

"The majority of girls are thriving, really fulfilling the dream and vision I had," Winfrey told the newspaper. "They really have exceeded any expectations I had for them."

"In spite of everything that's happened, what keeps me inspired and hopeful is the heart of every girl, because they are wonderful, they are magnificent."

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3 Comments

oprah sou brasileira moro no rio de janeiro tenho 38 anos sou casada a 17 anos gostaria de te pedir ajuda porque estou muito infeliz com a minha aparencia com o tempo perdi toda a minha vaidade gostaria que voce que e a maior defensora das mulheres desse a oportunidade de ajudar alguem aqui no brasil para fazer cirurgias de reparação ou ou cirurgia necessaria porque aqui no brasil e muito dificil algum programa de televisão fazer esse tipo de programa com ajuda cirurgica peço encarecidamente vivo em uma comunidade só meu marido que trabalha não sobra nem um centavinho para eu pagar uma cirurgia preciso contar com a caridade das pessoas desde ja muito obrigada beijos .

Oprah you did a good thing with this school Please don't let anyone get you down. We all know that with kids comes problems and that doesn't make them bad especially when they are kids that really never had supervision. Much love to you and keep on doing what you are doing......................

This woman is such a phony! She is bigoted self-serving. She is the worse of the worse that this country has to offer. I can't for the life of me understand why she has such a following. No talent, uneducated, nobody! She has been made rich by middle white America women who are completely mindless. What a shame that we let someone like her influence our lives because we are incapable of having their own opinion. Only in America could someone like this trash make it. There is always hope that the will eat so much that she will self implode.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Bieganski published on April 11, 2009 7:00 AM.

Oprah Winfrey's puppy Sadie recovers -- plus a bear on the show? was the previous entry in this blog.

A little Oprah Winfrey to brighten up this gloomy Monday: Everybody gets a car remix is the next entry in this blog.

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