American television talk show host Oprah Winfrey has opened a $40 million school for girls in South Africa.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was a officially opened with a ceremony Tuesday in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, outside of Johannesburg. Winfrey called it the proudest day of her life, saying she wanted to provide an opportunity for girls to reach their potential despite poverty.

Winfrey had pledged to build the school during a meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela several years ago. Mr. Mandela attended Tuesday's opening and issued a statement praising Winfrey for being a benefactor to the disadvantaged around the world.

The school will provide a free education for 152 girls, age 11 and up. The students were selected based on their intelligence and financial need.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.