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Oprah's Charity Gives $725,000 To South Africa School

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JOHANNESBURG — A charity affiliated with Oprah Winfrey has contributed at least $725,000 toward renovating a school in South Africa, where the group already has helped fund a primary school and Winfrey has built a lavish $40 million academy for girls.

The refurbished Vele High School in South Africa's Limpopo province will feature 16 classrooms and accommodate some 640 students when it is officially complete in January, Gregg Sherkin, program officer for Oprah's Angel Network, said Thursday.

Students have continued their studies at the school in Vhembe district throughout the renovations, which include a library and media center, computer lab and science labs.

"It's a school that is hopefully going to become a hub for dynamic learning for an under-resourced community," said Sherkin, adding that others will be able to come in for adult-based education and computer training.

Oprah's Angel Network has provided at least 5 million rand ($725,000) toward the project, with the South African Department of Education funding the majority of the construction costs.

The public charity was launched in 1998 with donations from viewers of Winfrey's talk show and also helped fund the Seven Fountains Primary School in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province back in 2007.

The charity, however, has since stopped accepting donations following Winfrey's decision to end her Chicago-based show in 2011 after 25 years on the air.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls opened in January 2007 outside Johannesburg.

South Africa's schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid, which left a deep racial divide in the country's education system. Quality schooling is still largely reserved for white or rich black students while pupils at the hundreds of schools in poor areas often suffer under badly trained teachers with little equipment.

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Online:

http://oprahsangelnetwork.org