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Oprah Winfrey Opens New School in Africa



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

Oprah Winfrey has built a new school in South Africa that will give more than 150 students a chance for a better future.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, write the word Africa on a board or chart. Can students identify the location of Africa on a world map? If not, show them where it is. Tell them that Africa is a continent made up of many countries. You might familiarize students with the names and locations of some of those countries, including the country of South Africa, which is the location of this weeks News for Kids article.

Ask students what they know about Africa. Write down some of their perceptions. If they offer any stereotypes (for example, if statements such as Everyone in Africa is poor or Africans live in huts), you might ask if they think that is true of all of Africa or just parts of the continent.

News Words

Write on a board or chart the following words: attend, academy, applied, and accepted. Have students use those words in sentences to be sure they comprehend their meanings. If you have taught the skill of alphabetical order, have them alphabetize the list of words.

Read the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
  • Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Oprah Winfrey Opens New School in Africa.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The $40 million academy, which Oprah Winfrey vows to make the "best school in the world," fulfills a promise she made six years ago to Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa. "I wanted to give this opportunity to girls who had a light so bright that not even poverty could dim that light," Winfrey said at a news conference. "The school will teach girls to be the best human beings they can ever be; it will train them to become decision-makers and leaders; it will be a model school for the rest of the world."
  • Winfrey said she decided to build the academy in South Africa rather than the United States out of love and respect for Mandela and because of her own African roots.
  • The school, which is in South Africas Gauteng Province, includes more than 25 buildings. The buildings include state-of-the-art facilities such as residences and a large library. Other buildings include a dining hall, theater, and gymnasium.
  • Winfrey is building a home of her own on campus so she will be able to continue to be involved in the students education.
  • The schools 152 slots have not all been filled at this time. Girls from Gauteng Province who have been accepted were invited to the opening with their parents -- but the girls did not know they had been accepted until they got there and were told!
  • Many state-funded schools in South Africa are overcrowded and lack basics such as books. Gang violence and drugs are common in those schools. There are good private schools in South Africa, but most students in those schools are white because the schools are so expensive to attend.
  • South Africa is suffering from an AIDS pandemic. 5.4 million of the countrys 48 million people are infected. Many of the schools girls come from families affected by the disease. Girls who are educated are less likely to get HIV/AIDS, Winfrey said, and she hopes her school will help to begin to change the pandemic. By educating girls, Winfrey said she hoped to help "change the face of a nation."
  • President Mandela was among the attendees at the schools opening. Now 88 years old, the first democratically elected president of South Africa (1994) said, "It is my hope that this school will become the dream of every South African girl and they will study hard and qualify for the school one day."
  • Other attendees at the opening included singers Tina Turner, Mary J. Blige, and Mariah Carey; musicians Babyface and Quincy Jones; actor Sidney Poitier; comedian Chris Rock; former U.S. ambassador to South Africa Dr. Andrew Young; and director Spike Lee. Each guest was asked to bring a personally inscribed book for the library.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • Why dont some students in South Africa attend school? (Accept reasoned responses such as there are no schools in some places, schools are in bad condition or unsafe, many girls dont go to school)
  • How many girls attend the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls? (152; in a few years there will be about 450 students)
  • What grades can be found in the school? (grades 7 and 8; grades 9-12 will be added in future years)
  • Why did Oprah build the school? (Accept reasoned responses such as she wanted to give girls an opportunity they would not have had, she wants to improve the quality of life for girls in South Africa, she wants kids to get a good education)

    Think About the News
    Introduce the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. Have students write letters, as the activity suggests. If you dont have them write letters, let student share some ideas they might include in their letters if they were to write them.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts letter writing. Do the activity introduced in the Think About the News box on the students printable news page. Before using the activity, you might take time to review with students the parts and form of a friendly or business letter.

    Dictionary skills. Use this activity to teach or reinforce the skill of using dictionary guide words. Write the following information on a board or chart.

    Page 2: aardvark academy
    Page 3: accepted adopt
    Page 5: adore alarm
    Page 6: album animal
    Page 7: ankle applied
    Page 8: appreciate attend
    Then write some words from the following list on the board or chart, and ask students to use the guide words to help them identify on which page in the dictionary each word would be found: advice (page 5), attach (page 8), antler (page 7), accident (page 3), alike (page 6), adult (page 5), antique (page 7), above (page 2), angel (page 6), air (page 5, amen (page 6), artist (page 8), add (page 4), ahead (page 5), astronaut (page 8), afraid (page 5), apple (page 7), able (page 2), adjective (page 4), alphabet (page 6), and aquarium (page 8).

    Geography. Have students locate the country of South Africa on a map of Africa. Point out that South Africa is in the southern part of the continent. Then have students locate the following African countries and tell whether each is in northern, southern, eastern, or western part of Africa: Mali (western or northern); Kenya (eastern); Sudan (eastern or northern); Algeria (northern or western); Liberia (western); Zimbabwe (southern); Libya (northern); Botswana (southern); Ethiopia (eastern); Egypt (northern); Madagascar (eastern or southern); and Somalia (eastern).


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on their printable news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World