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American television personality Oprah Winfrey's partly funded school in the South African province of Limpopo has won the Afrisam SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture
Ophra's Vele Secondary School will share this honour jointly with another rural South African school, Lebone II College.
The US chat show host's Angel Network has donated US$725,000 towards the green project, which has also received funds from the South African Department of Education.
A statement from Vele Secondary School revealed that the school’s Matric pass rate rose from 38 per cent in 2009 to 84 per cent last year, an increase which has, in part, been linked to the improvements made to the school campus.
Samuel Makhado, principal of Vele Secondary School, said, "The problem we were facing was handling the student overcrowding. It was also so cold in the morning that the learners had difficulty concentrating on their studies.
"The building has now been designed in a way that on hot days the classrooms are cool and on cold days they are warm. The learners are able to concentrate and the improvement in the pass rate is proof of this."
The building's renovation included the installation of a rainwater-harvesting system, solar energy panels and green roofs planted with indigenous plants. The school can also boast of a permaculture food station and medicinal garden.