by Michael dEstries
Categories: Causes, People.

snipshot_94uko3785ng.jpgOprah Winfrey has come under some unusual fire for her decision to open her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The academy, which cost $40 million dollars, is built on 22-acres of land, holds a sprawling, 28-building complex, and comes equipped with a yoga studio and beauty salon. (Beauty salon?) Oprah defended her decision to support the school because she felt the money would be greater utilized in a country where children do not take for granted the limited opportunities they have. From the article,

“In an interview with Newsweek, Winfrey revealed that she had been “frustrated” by the way American inner-circle kids did not appreciate the value of a free education, and thought the money would be better spent on kids who had a burning desire to learn, but did not have the means.

“I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn’t there,” the New York Daily News quoted her, as telling the publication.

“If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don’t ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school,” she added.”

I have to agree with Oprah here. I would rather put my money in a place where children have a strong desire to learn than in a place where they feel they are forced to participate. The article also reports on Oprah’s past commitment to US education saying, ” The talk show queen, who has given millions of dollars over the years to educate impoverished kids in the US through the Oprah Winfrey Scholars program, has handpicked 152 girls out of 3,500 applicants to attend the school.”

So, I’m not angry with Oprah at all. She’s doing some good in the world. Stop bitching about how unfortunate U.S. children are. We have no idea what a gift such an opportunity as this is for other people in the world.

Source: Photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • becky

    It’s true, why give it to somebody who doesn’t want it.

  • http://windowsxp noidrequired

    I think it was terrible for Oprah to say what she said about American children. And for her personal attack on black and latino children in particular because they are the ones in the inner-city schools. For her to say “they” don’t have a desire to learn is just perpetuating stereotypes about minorities. How could she lump all inner-city children together like that. I know plenty of kids who are trying so hard to get their education and go on to college despite the adversities of living in the inner city. My childrens school looks like a freaking jail. Who would want to go there and be locked inside for seven hours. I wouldn’t. If Oprah had built schools here like the one she built in Africa you would probably have to make the kids go home. State of the art computers, beauty salon, theatres, science labs. My kids school doesn’t even have enough books for each student. And no, this isn’t Oprahs fault but she shouldnt say inner city kids don’t want to learn. That is a lie. I am very happy for those African girls, I am so happy that they have been given a chance. I wish all kids had the same advantages worldwide.