Updated Apr 23, 2019

David Fu

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Creating globally competitive schools in some of the most underserved communities in Africa; each school is an R&D engine that develops innovative approaches that can be effectively applied in the public sector

Streetlight Schools is a non-profit, low-cost, innovative primary school. The model focuses on inquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance, and the use of technology to teach and learn. We place student mastery, creativity, and 21st century skills at the heart of all learning. Our social strategy supports the holistic development of young learners, including social-emotional skills, identity...
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Streetlight Schools is a non-profit, low-cost, innovative primary school. The model focuses on inquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance, and the use of technology to teach and learn. We place student mastery, creativity, and 21st century skills at the heart of all learning. Our social strategy supports the holistic development of young learners, including social-emotional skills, identity development and values. We help our students engage constructively and positively with themselves and others and reduce their negative behaviours, many of which were developed to cope with the harsh world outside the walls of our school. Our school culture involves using a responsive classroom approach & routines to ensure consistent & positive culture that nurtures love, curiosity & creativity. Our teacher recruitment & training process enables those without any experience to become excellent, continuously reflecting & improving practitioners within 2 years. Our school design approach is low-cost and eco-friendly, leading to us being recognized as the first green-star rated school in South Africa (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/569e28325a56686dfb3b641a/t/5b3220d2352f53ec816753ba/1530011971457/Streetlight+Schools+Earthworks+Article.pdf). The school is also intentionally designed to promote creativity and play among students. We have hosted numerous visitors and partnered with those interested in learning from us, most notably the University of Johannesburg.
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Stage 4: Transition to Scale

Launched flagship in inner-city Joburg in Jan 2016. Developed innovative approaches, such as 21st century curriculum; accelerated teacher training; low-cost, green school design; and holistic social-emotional strategy. Now seeking funding to scale.
Registered in South Africain South Africa

Focus Areas:

Education, Methods & Learning, Human Centered Design and 1 MoreSEE ALL

Education, Methods & Learning, Human Centered Design and TechnologySEE LESS

260
Customers
37
Employees
$2,000,000
Funds Raised to Date

Problem

In South Africa, over 16 million children cannot access quality education, leaving 85% of citizens lacking basic skills & access to meaningful jobs. Free public schools are overcrowded & under-resourced, lacking qualified teachers (68% of grade 6 math teachers exhibit content knowledge below grade 6). 78% of Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning in any language. Market innovations only improve middle-income schools serving <20% of the population, thus perpetuating an unequal, unjust society.

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Solution

Our school provides a vision for innovative, transformative, cost-effective education for marginalized students in South Africa. It serves as an R&D engine complementary to the state—operating in a similar context but with flexibility to innovate. Our innovations in curriculum, facility design, culture, social strategy, and more have shown promise. Further, our school is part of a broad effort for community revitalization involving an affordable housing developer, local businesses, and the city.

Target Beneficiaries

First, we serve parents in inner-city Johannesburg who otherwise cannot access quality education & provide a better future for their children. Second, we empower & train local teachers without experience to become excellent, life-long educators. Third, we will undertake knowledge exchange & partner with others in the public sector to adopt our innovative approaches, starting with the University of Johannesburg and Funda Ujabule Public School in Soweto, with whom we have our first partnership.

Mission and Vision

We hope to see more students empowered to change the trajectory of their lives. We hope to see more teachers equipped with the skills to empower more students effectively. We hope to enable healing & supporting the whole child, especially to address the traumas & fractures of aparatheid. We hope to see other communities & stakeholders take similar approaches to invest in long-term education & development for the benefit of families & children. We also hope to influence the public school sector.

Competitive Advantage

Approaches in South Africa have included bursaries, literacy campaigns, leadership academies & low-cost school chains. For reasons including high school fees, high per-learner costs, selective admission, lack of qualified personnel & lack of investment in local talent, these approaches have all proven ineffective at scaling and/or reaching the most needy. Streetlight Schools, however, operates like a generics pharmaceutical lab – we take existing, expensive “medicines” created, researched, and implemented elsewhere and determine how to produce “generics” locally and cost-effectively. We then combine these methods to effectively target and address the many symptoms of the “diseases” of poor education and community disadvantage. This avoids the risks and costs of creating/implementing new methods that may not benefit students and instead creates effective, research-backed, high-quality instruction delivered at a lower price point than anyone else in the South African private sector.

Planned Goals and Milestones

Our flagship school, Jeppe Park Primary, will continue to grow by one grade per year until it covers grades R-7 in 2022. Now that we have developed an excellent, low-cost school model delivering results, we are seeking to scale our innovation and launch more schools. Currently, we are focused on securing funding to open more schools while also documenting our model and creating workshops to share our innovations with other educators in South Africa.
New Implemented CountriesSouth Africa

The Team Behind the Innovation

Our team consists of people with deep educational knowledge (100+ combined years of educational experience) and a wide variety of expertise (including finance, social work, community-building, entrepreneurship, and law) that they bring to building and growing a mission-driven education organisation. Because our staff and students come from similar communities, teachers are deeply familiar with the challenges learners face and can effectively address them while meaningfully relating to learners.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN AND YOUTH

Milestone

Mar 2019
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Mar 2019
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Jan 2019
New Product Or Service
Launched our intermediate phase with the addition of Grade 4.
Jan 2015
New Product Or Service
We launched our Education Lab as an afterschool program to prove our concept before launching a full, independent school.
Oct 2013
Created
Date Unknown