The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) is pleased to announce its newly-appointed Executive Director Gugu Ndebele. The former Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children South Africa will take up her position on February 1, 2019. She will report to the OWLAG Board of Directors and is charged with keeping the promise of the school’s mission statement: ‘to provide a nurturing educational environment for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and equip them with the skills to become our future leaders of tomorrow.’
Ndebele is regarded as one of the most passionate children’s rights leaders in South Africa and brings over 30 years of experience in education and social development initiatives to OWLAG. She will continue to strengthen the Academy as the leading center of excellence for teaching and learning for girls in the country. A key strategist, community builder and diplomat for the school, Ndebele will enhance the development of the next generation of dynamic women leaders.
“I believe Gugu is the ideal person to lead the school forward to our goal of educating girls all over the country,” said Oprah Winfrey. “She has a tremendous passion for education and is committed to seeing our girls not only succeed in their own lives, but pay it forward to their communities, South Africa and beyond.”
“I am honored to be given this opportunity to carry on the Academy’s mission to provide the best possible education to young girls of South Africa,” said Ndebele. “I look forward to working with Ms. Winfrey and the entire OWLAG community to continue to grow this world-class institution.”
During her time as CEO at Save the Children, Ndebele spent the past four years overseeing wide-ranging projects committed to children’s rights, literacy development, child protection, health and nutrition and mobilizing resources and developing partnerships in support of its programmes. Her work has caught the attention of international bodies and in 2018, she was nominated by Save the Children International and other Child Rights Organisations to represent Civil Society Organizations on the Executive Committee of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. In 2016 she was appointed Vice-Chair of the UNSECO-led Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) and in 2017, Ndebele was named Literacy Ambassador by the Minister of Basic Education for her contribution and commitment to improving literacy in South Africa.
Prior to her work with Save the Children, Ndebele spent 18 years at the Department of Education and was a deeply committed contributor to the education sector in South Africa, having risen to the rank of Deputy Director General and serving four Ministers of Education. Her areas of impact related to adult basic education, the consolidation of the Further Education and Training (“FET”) colleges and, of particular significance to her, the establishment of support services in education.
Ndebele is a proud mother of twins and an adult son and is an active alumna of Inanda Seminary. She holds a Certificate in Adult Basic Education and Training, awarded by the University of the Witwatersrand in 1992, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Adult Basic Education from the same institution in 1994. In 1999, she completed a Management Advancement Progamme. In 2000, she was awarded a Chivening Scholarship and earned a Masters degree in Organisational Change and Management at the University of Manchester.