I was trying not to comment on this issue but now that Oprah has opened a second school, I feel that I must address the rules issue at her first – the Leadership Academy. Granted this second school will be run by the local board of education for that area in South Africa and this school was only $1.6million compared to $40 million for her Academy. Nonetheless, the rules for the Leadership Academy provide those girls with fewer privileges than criminals in our country.
Before anyone gets upset, I do think it is great that she opened a school for girls that they may have access to a great education and thus let that be their stepping stone on to bigger and better things. However, it is a school and not a prison. Yes, the young girls did not have much according to American standards but from what I saw on the special about the school they were intelligent, well spoken and polite so whatever institutions they were already attending they were getting a good education and they had proper home training which is more than I can say for many in this country.
Back to the rules – parents are only allowed to visit once a month and only for 2 hours and each girl is allowed a maximum of 4 visitors. There is no cell phone or email communication during the week. Also, the parents cannot smuggle in sodas and sweets for the girls because their diet is to consist of healthy food (every woman (young or old) needs a good chocolate bar now and then). 🙂
Prisoners in the American penal system have more freedoms than these young girls. Education is important but should it usurp communication with one’s family? Is this education or indoctrination?
These girls may not have had much according to our definitions (which are often skewed), but in exchange for our ideal of a good education and some posh surroundings, should they and their parents have to sign away their souls?
As an aside, a leadership academy for young boys should be built. Based on news from South Africa, they face many of the same challenges within the African-American community and the young boys need extra attention to develop to their full potential.