Oprah's academy: a reminder that all children need education

Regarding the Jan. 5 article, "Oprah's academy: Why educating girls pays off more": Oprah Winfrey's school in South Africa displays unwarranted extravagance. Why the need for such grandeur? Numerous educational facilities could probably have been built with $40 million. One can have all the modern technology, beautiful settings, and quality of inspiration and education without all the flash.

Ms. Winfrey was criticized for not having developed her project in the US where so many children's lives are crying out for intervention. She said she had visited schools in the US but felt the importance of an education was just not in the minds of the children. She remarked that when asked what they need, US children responded by saying that they needed iPods or sneakers. In Africa, evidently, the children gave the magic answer: uniforms so that they could go to school.

For my money, Winfrey probably could have fulfilled an even greater promise to Nelson Mandela and still been able to afford American youth some of the same opportunities. If she can't see beyond society's materialistic influence on its young, then let her TV show stand as Exhibit A: Women are sometimes shown shrieking with joy at receiving trendy gifts such as iPods. Surely with a staff to inspire and the latest in educational tools, American children, too, would begin to dream about and learn of a greater purpose.
Ellen Widran
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Thank you for the Jan. 5 article on Oprah's academy and education for girls. Given the dramatic benefits not just to the girls, but to the community, it is obvious that eliminating school fees and providing support for primary schools is extremely important. While some may criticize Oprah for limiting the effect of her $40 million, it is instructive to note that the US provided a paltry $15 million a year in 2005 and 2006 to help eliminate school fees in the developing world. We all need to let our representatives and senators know that this is a priority.

For a fraction of the more than $1 billion dollars a day the defense budget uses, and the trillions of dollars that might be spent in Iraq, we can make the world more stable and secure simply by helping children and their families get an education and find hope.
Robert C. Dickerson II

The Jan. 5 article about Oprah's academy for girls in South Africa performs a worldwide disservice to boys and men by deflecting attention from the "boy crisis" in education here in the United States.

In America today, boys fall behind girls in virtually all domains, men are on the wrong side of the 60 percent/40 percent split in higher educational attainment, and universities lack men's studies programs but have an overabundance of women's studies programs.

We should start at the top to remedy this problem by requiring universities to offer men's studies programs to match those existing in women's studies and to provide equal educational opportunity and assistance for all.

As a nation, we have allowed the feminist ideology to serve as blinders by causing us to focus narrowly only on the topics of advantage to feminists – and by so doing, we have marginalized boys and men throughout the land.

To put the matter in perspective, imagine the reaction to a newspaper article titled, "Why educating boys pays off more"?
Gordon E. Finley

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