Oprah Winfrey spent $40 million to give the girls at her school in South Africa a campus with computer and science labs, a library and a wellness center. None paid tuition. The students are high-achievers, often from communities where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.
As the South African school year nears its end, all 72 students of the school’s first graduating class have been accepted to universities in South Africa or the United States. More than a dozen have received full scholarships.
Winfrey told her students that when you teach a girl, you teach a nation.
Winfrey will be at the school for graduation ceremonies in January, school officials said Wednesday as students gathered to reflect on their experiences over the last five years.
The school has drawn sometimes harsh attention because of the celebrity who founded it, and also because of early problems.
Students have been accused of being spoiled. Allegations that a woman employed to care for the girls in their dormitory had instead abused teens were the subject of headlines around the world. The woman was acquitted last year.
Earlier this year, an infant born to a student at the school was found dead, again drawing international attention.