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All pass in Oprah’s first class in South Africa

The first graduating class at Oprah Winfrey’s school for South African girls are set for further studies after passing their final exams, the board of directors said Thursday.

The 72 girls together achieved A grades in 188 subjects, David Wylde told AFP.

“This tells us if you take girls from a disadvantaged background and give them a proper and extending education, they will perform superbly well,” he said.

Just under 500,000 full-time students sat for South Africa’s national final school exams in November last year, achieving a 70.2-percent pass rate, according to results release on Wednesday.

The multi-million-dollar school south of Johannesburg in Henley-on-Klip — founded with Winfrey’s own money — opened in 2007 in a ceremony attended by Nelson Mandela.

The initial classes of girls at the school were aged between 11 and 13, chosen after an initial 3,500 applications, with Winfrey choosing the final 152 for their academic and leadership qualities as well as their disadvantaged background.

A few months later, the school was rocked by abuse claims, when a dormitory matron was accused of indecent assault on six girls and a colleague. She was found not guilty last year.

The girls now plan to study everything from medicine and law to arts and engineering. Several have won full scholarships, others are still waiting for decisions on bursaries.

Two are set to attend American universities, eight are headed to schools in other countries, and 62 have been accepted at South African universities.