A Rocketship Takes Off in South Africa

“We are introducing the blended learning model into South Africa to provide quality education at a cost that the country can afford,” said Stacey Brewer, a recent MBA graduate following the now prevalent U.S. trend of smart kids becoming edupreneurs.
Stacey spent time at Rocketship Education in San Jose, Calif.  She and her colleagues have adapted the model for South Africa and will be launching their first school next month.
“Our bigger vision is to create a workable blueprint for South African education, which will ultimately contribute to the success of the country as a holistic entity,” said Brewer.
“Our network of schools are called Spark Schools,” explained Brewer, “It comes from a William Yeates quote saying ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but a lighting of a fire.”
Spark is an acronym of core values that will guide the school network: Service, Persistence, Achievement, Responsibility, Kindness.
The first school is a converted home in Randburg, Johannesburg. “The teachers have started their professional development in December but they have another 10 days in January before school starts,” said Brewer.
“It is great to see the mix of races that we are attracting to our school–black, white and Indian,” said Brewer.  She continued, “This mix is fantastic and what the country needs as our children will be able to learn from an early stage to manage diversity.”
Spark Schools will be a low cost private school.  In A Beautiful Tree, James Tooley introduced the western world to the growing importance of affordable private schools in the world’s poorest neighborhoods.
Bridge International Academies is the most widely cited example of a high quality affordable school network. Opening in Kenya in 2009 with a vision to revolutionize accessibility to primary education for poor families, Bridge operates more low-cost private schools in Kenya.  By 2015, they plan to open 1,800 schools, serving over one million families.
In the Bridge tradition, but adding a blended component, Spark Schools has the potential to make a big difference for kids and communities across Africa.
For more on low cost private schools see:

Disclosure: Bridge International Academies is a Learn Capital portfolio company where Tom is a partner.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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