Philadelphia Inquirer: About 150 girls in South Africa must feel as though they are on another planet right now, compared with the lives they had led.
These 7th- and 8th-graders were chosen to be the inaugural class of students at the new Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in a small town not far from the capital of Johannesburg.
Call it Planet Oprah.
This is no ordinary private, boarding school -- by most anyone's standards. Its 22-acre campus includes not only classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, but also a yoga studio, a beauty salon and two theaters, Newsweek magazine reported.
The South African academy is a dream of Winfrey's that she made come true with about 40 million of her own money.
The talk-show queen wanted to find academically talented girls who lived in disadvantaged circumstances and give them an education and leadership training. She plans to expand this school and open others.
Winfrey picked a good cause.
All children, girls and boys, deserve a good education and the possibilities that can come with it. But the majority of the estimated 115 million children around the world who do not attend school are girls.
It's a matter of economics for many poor households in poor countries. Boys often go to classes while girls are kept home to help with chores or sent to work to earn money.
Yet numerous studies have shown that a necessary ingredient for economic development is the education and empowerment of girls and women.
Most governments around the world recognize that and are making strides toward providing universal primary and secondary schooling for girls as well as boys. But, let's face it, Winfrey has more money in her bank account than some countries have in their national treasuries.
Her academy could inspire other billionaires to complement government efforts by donating money to make good schools more available around the world, be it in Philadelphia or South Africa.