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Oprah's school is no prison!

The academy, situated near Johannesburg, has been set up to help 152 girls aged 12 and 13.

tv Updated: Mar 15, 2007 19:22 IST

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey has hit back at complaints that the rules at her South African boarding school are too strict.

Parents of some of the student complained to local newspapers that the school was like a prison, and that they were allowed only extremely limited contact with their daughters.

However, a spokeswoman for Winfrey insisted that the rules were in place to ensure that the young female students of the school got the protection they needed.

She also said that the rules were not so different from that that were followed at other boarding schools around the world.

"Our goal is to protect health, welfare and well being of the students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy," the New York Post quoted her, as saying.

"As with other boarding schools we provide a structured, safe and nurturing environment in which the girls can learn and develop the guidelines that were created with the girls best interests in mind," the spokeswoman added.

Built on 22-acres of land, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa complex holds a sprawling, 28-building complex, that among other things comes equipped with a yoga studio and beauty salon.

The academy, which is situated near Johannesburg, has been set up to help 152 girls aged 12 and 13 who have been personally handpicked by Winfrey from 3,500 applicants.

Winfrey had earlier revealed to Newsweek that the reason why she decided to build a school for young girls in the African nation, after years of just signing cheque after cheque in donations, she was getting “frustrated” at the lack of “connection” between her and the people she was helping.

"I really became frustrated with the fact that all I did was write check after check. At a certain point, you want to feel that connection. These girls deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and beauty does inspire," she told the publication.

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