7th Graduating Class – Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls
Johannesburg, 6 December – The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) celebrated their 7th graduation event of the 2018 Matric Class affectionately referred to as the “Orion’s”, on Saturday, 1 December 2018, as Founder Ms. Oprah Winfrey introduced world-renowned producer, director and actor Mr. Tyler Perry as a special commencement speaker.
OWLAG was born from a pledge by Ms. Winfrey to former president Nelson Mandela in 2002 to provide a world-class educational platform for marginalised girls that will nurture a new generation of dynamic leaders. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s emphasis on education, The Academy has welcomed talented, underprivileged girls to a new lifestyle; a world filled with knowledge, social skills and possibilities, and is proud to maintain a 100% matric pass rate.
During the annual event, Mr. Perry addressed the girls and their families, speaking to the importance of being chosen to have the opportunity to attend OWLAG: “Before the ceremony this morning, I spoke to Ms. Winfrey and asked her how she chose the girls. She said she looks for something special, something that sparkles and is unique. Today that is all I saw. I saw all the hope, brilliance and intelligence. Being the chosen one is special and wonderful. It gives you the opportunity to strive and go higher and do things that you would have not had the chance to do.”
During the ceremony, the Academy’s top achievers were recognised for their academic and leadership capabilities. The award for Top Academic Achiever of 2018, was presented to Nicolle Naidoo, with Anele Satsa announced as the runner up Academic Achiever of 2018. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Award – given to a student that epitomises leadership, caring, and generosity of spirit – was awarded to Lethukukhanya Mbambo.
“It is such an honour and privilege to exist in a space where you can become more than you were yesterday”, says Khensani Hlaise, 2018 Class Representative. “For my sisters and I, this journey has been of becoming more of ourselves, it has been about uncovering and discovering, a journey of shedding our fears and becoming who we truly have always been. We are all here because of a dream that Mum O had, one that Tata Madiba pushed along. Before we part ways, my dear loves, I am here to remind you that you are great, beautiful, strong and smart.”
As the graduates leave OWLAG to pursue their passions, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation (OWLAF) guides these young women through their tertiary education and assists them in preparing for the world of work. Ms. Winfrey’s goal has always been for each girl who attends OWLAG to also have the opportunity to attend and graduate from college. 2018 saw 58 girls graduate from the Academy and to date, over 400 OWLAG graduates have attended prestigious colleges and universities around the world, with over 350 OWLAG Alumnae who have registered at South African Universities.
About The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls
During a December 2000 visit with Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey pledged to build a school in South Africa. As that commitment broadened, she established The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation (OWLAF), to which she has contributed more than $140 million toward the creation of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls – South Africa (OWLAG). The Academy opened in January 2007 and currently serves grades 8 through 12.
OWLAG welcomes talented, underprivileged girls to a new lifestyle; a world filled with knowledge, social skill development and possibilities. Located in a 28-building campus in Henley-on-Klip, the Leadership Academy is a state-of-the-art independent school that engenders high standards of academic achievement and service leadership for girls from all nine South African provinces who show outstanding promise despite their impoverished backgrounds and social circumstances. OWLAG is a designated Independent Examinations Board (IEB) school and a member of Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) and Round Square. Students have participated in Model United Nations and the President’s Award for Youth Empowerment.
Ms Winfrey’s vision is that the Leadership Academy will help develop the future leaders of South Africa. 2017 marks the 7th graduating class, with 100% of the students graduating on to higher education in colleges and universities in South Africa including The University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), Rhodes University (Grahamstown) and University of Pretoria, and students studying throughout the United States at prestigious colleges such as Stanford University, Skidmore College, Spelman College and Brown University. A College Fund was established to support and encourage these young leaders, and those that follow, on their continuing journey.
OPRAH WINFREY LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FOR GIRLS ANNOUNCES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GUGU NDEBELE
Former CEO of Save the Children South Africa Will Lead the Academy Beginning February 1, 2019
Caption: Oprah Winfrey, Founder of Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy (l) and new Executive Director Gugu Ndebele (r)
Link to download: https://owncomm.box.com/s/by5q6ktkc35lob94pchh9fu1nzg09xgr
Link to download Gugu Ndebele headshot: https://owncomm.box.com/s/th8ykjnonkgc2nfbuab96sihp9y6ojto
Johannesburg, 6 December – The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) is pleased to announce today its newly-appointed Executive Director Gugu Ndebele. The former Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children South Africa will begin her position on February 1, 2019. She will report to the OWLAG Board of Directors and is charged with keeping the promise of the school’s mission statement: to provide a nurturing educational environment for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and equip them with the skills to become our future leaders of tomorrow.
Ndebele is regarded as one of the most passionate children’s rights leaders in South Africa and brings over 30 years of experience in education and social development initiatives to OWLAG. She will continue to strengthen the Academy as the leading center of excellence for teaching and learning in the country for girls. A key strategist, community builder and diplomat for the school, Ndebele will enhance the development of the next generation of dynamic women leaders.
“I believe Gugu is the ideal person to lead the school forward to our goal of educating girls all over the country,” said Oprah Winfrey. “She has a tremendous passion for education and is committed to seeing our girls not only succeed in their own lives, but pay it forward to their communities, South Africa and beyond.”
“I am honored to be given this opportunity to carry on the Academy’s mission to provide the best possible education to young girls of South Africa,” said Ndebele. “I look forward to working with Ms. Winfrey and the entire OWLAG community to continue to grow this world-class institution.”
During her time as CEO at Save the Children, Ndebele spent the past four years overseeing wide-ranging projects committed to children’s rights, literacy development, child protection, health and nutrition and mobilizing resources and developing partnerships in support of its programmes. Her work has caught the attention of international bodies and in 2018, she was nominated by Save the Children International and other Child Rights Organisations to represent Civil Society Organizations on the Executive Committee of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. In 2016 she was appointed Vice-Chair of the UNSECO-led Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) and in 2017, Ndebele was named Literacy Ambassador by the Minister of Basic Education for her contribution and commitment to improving literacy in South Africa.
Prior to her work with Save the Children, Ndebele spent 18 years at the Department of Education and was a deeply committed contributor to the education sector in South Africa, having risen to the rank of Deputy Director General and serving four Ministers of Education. Her areas of impact related to adult basic education, the consolidation of the Further Education and Training (“FET”) colleges and, of particular significance to her, the establishment of support services in education.
Ndebele is a proud mother of twins and an adult son and is an active alumna of Inanda Seminary. She holds a Certificate in Adult Basic Education and Training, awarded by the University of the Witwatersrand in 1992, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Adult Basic Education from the same institution in 1994. In 1999, she completed a Management Advancement Progamme. In 2000, she was awarded a Chivening Scholarship and earned a Masters degree in Organisational Change and Management at the University of Manchester.
About The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy
During a December 2000 visit with Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey pledged to build a school in South Africa. In January 2007, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls – South Africa (OWLAG) opened, welcoming talented, underprivileged girls to a new lifestyle; a world filled with knowledge, social skill development and possibilities.
OWLAG strives to provide a nurturing educational environment for academically gifted girls who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Its educational programmes are designed for girls in Grades 8 to 12 who have demonstrated academic talent and leadership potential. The Academy equips students with the intellectual and social skills necessary to assume positions of leadership in South Africa and abroad. OWLAG is a designated Independent Examinations Board (IEB) school and a member of Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) and Round Square. Students have participated in Model United Nations and the President’s Award for Youth Empowerment.
OWLAG is located in a 28-building campus in Henley-on-Klip. It is a state-of-the-art independent school that engenders high standards of academic achievement and service leadership for girls from all nine South African provinces who show outstanding promise despite their impoverished backgrounds and social circumstances. Winfrey’s vision is that the Leadership Academy will help develop the future leaders of South Africa. 2018 marked the 7th graduating class, with 100% graduation rate. OWLAG graduates go on to higher education in colleges and universities throughout the United States and South Africa including The University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), Rhodes University (Grahamstown) and University of Pretoria.