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Provinces
Dec 2 2011 9:06AM
 
Girls from Oprah Winfrey’s school spread their wings
BRIGHT FUTURES: The first matric group from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Picture: REFENTSE SEBOTHOMA
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Lesego Masemola

The first batch of girls from Oprah Winfrey’s school is ready to take on the world.

But not a single pupil from the Oprah Leadership Academy for Girls is interested in teaching as a future career.

This emerged during a media meet-and-greet session with the school’s first batch of 72 matriculants from the Midvaal school, which opened in 2007.

Principal Anne van Zyl is distressed that her pupils are not interested in teaching, but admitted: “It’s largely because of what’s happening in the profession right now. It’s not an attractive profession; only the very idealistic would want to go there.”

Half of the children attending the school financed by TV mogul and talk show host Oprah Winfrey come from poor backgrounds.

The good news is that the girls have all been accepted at top local universities.

Two out of nine of the matriculants who applied to universities abroad have already been accepted, and the others are hopeful of their chances.

Most of the girls are going in to medicine, engineering and accounting with one or two doing visual arts, geology, law and journalism.

“To be honest, I think teaching requires someone with a certain character. But I believe that every person, no matter what profession they go into, will be teachers in their respective field and will make a difference, even if it is to one person’s life,” said Mashadi Kekana from Alexandra.

She is waiting for a reply from Wesllesley College in Boston, but has already been accepted at Rhodes.

Ntombikayise Gontyelena from Soweto said seeing how children treat teachers – including at her school – she would not be able to cope.

“Teaching is just not for me. I mean, seeing what they go through, I would not be able to do it. I don’t know how they do it!” she said.

She has been accepted at Rhodes for journalism: “The environment is similar to our school – small, and not surrounded by too much buzz. I am very inquisitive and love reading and writing. This course will give me the platform to travel and discover many intriguing stories,” she said.

“We had great teachers here and learnt valuable lessons from Oprah,” Gontyelena said.

Van Zyl was confident that the school would achieve a 100% pass rate, with at least four distinctions from each girl.

“It will prove to South Africa that with hard work from pupils and commitment by teachers we can achieve anything, despite some pupils coming from impoverished backgrounds.”

lesegom@thenewage.co.za

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