Bocconi University Challenge


Designing a school payment mechanism that encourages parents to regularly pay fees without creating any disadvantage for the children.


About Streetlight Schools:

Streetlight Schools is launching scalable primary schools with an innovative learning model to address the achievement shortfall in primary education in South Africa. Our unique approach focuses on enquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance and the use of technology to teach and learn.

Pics 17

The problem:

Before the launch of the first school, Streetlight reviewed all schools in the neighbourhood and surveyed parents in the area to make sure that the cost of education was affordable to parents within the community, and provides significant support to parents within the community who would like to attend the school but cannot pay fees.

However, there remains a significant percentage (15-20%) of parents that, even if though they are financially capapble of paying school fees, do not actually pay them. This is a problem that affects every low-fee private school in our area, Jeppestown, a poor neighbourhood of Johannesburg. It also creates unfairness- especially for parents who do pay on time.

Traditionally, local schools have dealt with non-payment by banning children from coming to school when their parents don’t pay on time – damaging their learning progress and making them unfairly responsible. At Streetlight this is not an option: we commit to providing low-cost quality education to poor communities without comprising on the service provided to the children and the overall sustainability of the school.

That is why it is important to find a workable solution for both the children and the school.

We are open to any kind of solution: an incentive scheme for the parents, an innovation in the definition of school fees (their timing, their quantity..), and so forth. Everything is welcomed. Bear in mind that simpler, easily implementable solutions will be favoured over expensive and complicated solutions.Team

Please come up with every smart idea that lies in the back of your mind. After the challenge is closed, a team composed of Bocconi University students and the Streetlight staff will examine the solution and choose a winner (or two if we consider it fair).

If possible, we will work as hard as we can to implement the winning idea, resulting in a genuine improvement in the lives of children.

How to participate?
You have two options:

  • Comment this blog post providing the details of your solution
  • Send your solution to

What will you get from the challenge?

  1. You get to face a stimulating challenge.
  2. The possibility to have a real impact. You can help Streetlight Schools grow sustainably, improve the education of Jeppestown children and, hopefully, a lot of children of disadvantaged families throughout South Africa in the future. Remember: schools can change a neighbourhood forever.
  3. A really nice Thank You picture from some of the Streetlight Students



School Leader Heidi and tutor Sandisile have an introductory day with parents


Our first school term: From wobbling steps to confidence on the dance floor

Three months ago we sat around a table on the Bjala Square rooftop, myself and our team of teaching staff, writing and preparing our first curriculum calendar and unit plans in eight different subjects as we tried to foresee how our school would turn out. Downstairs, in the school, project managers, volunteers and construction workers were demolishing, building, painting and preparing classrooms and facilities for the very first school day on the 13th of January. We were so excited!

Despite all the work and planning, we were all aware that we actually knew so little of how our real and everyday life in the school would be. It is all about the children and what kind of starting point they come with: where they come from, what social and cultural luggage they bring, whether they have been exposed to reading and writing before, if they are school ready. How will their presence affect our planning and expectations for what we want to achieve? There were so many questions – and we were very much looking forward to experiencing the answers.


On opening day, we welcomed almost 60 children, divided between one Grade R and three Grade 1 classes. We planned for the first week to be purely introductory, for us to get to know the children and for them to become familiar with us, the school and each other. Teachers and assistants had organized fun activities related to the different subjects such as reading, writing, maths, art and physical education. With observation criteria and forms at hand we learned so much from these beginning days and gained valuable information about our learners: whether they had previous knowledge and skills we could build upon, whether they were ready for a structured school day, whether they were motivated for learning or a little bit anxious.

And they were all of it! We soon realized that our learners are far from a homogeneous group but include just as many personalised characters—variations of school readiness and motivation, abilities to learn and socialize as they were numbered on the registration list. This knowledge led us to go for two main focuses during our first months: 1.) to establish a positive and inclusive learning environment and 2.)to create a safe and predictable school structure for the learners. Our strategy can be summed up in two words: Reason and Love.

TeamJeppe Park Primary

The idea is simple: we recognize that our learners are small children and that they need to be guided and taught how to relate to and internalize the different expectations you will find in a school system. The best way to that is through dialogue and conversations where expectations are described and explained. Love is the basis for every relationship, for inclusiveness and recognition – and patience.

1 Streetlight schools

Both learners and parents were no doubt surprised by our behavioural strategy and we have heard too often that “you have to beat them in order to make them do as you want.” No, you don’t. Half way through our first term our school is filled with smiling children who are motivated to learn. Some are still a bit uncertain when they realize that we want to talk instead of punish; we recognize that conversation is a skill that needs be learned and nourished. It is wonderful, though, to see how so many of our learners have gained confidence to be and act as children and, at the same time, adjust to a school culture where learning and sharing has become their core focus.

To be honest, neither I nor the teachers had high expectations related to academic achievements in the first term. We were told, and we knew, that too many of our learners are coming from homes and family backgrounds where stimuli and resources for learning are poor. Our first days of observations also told us that we had so many learners that had never seen books before, had never learned any letters in the alphabet, needed to learn how to hold a pencil and how to learn and play constructively with others. We knew we had quite a challenge ahead of us. But I decided early that we had to take this challenge step-by-step. I anticipated that we would need two to three terms to get to the academic standard that we want to achieve.

I was so mistaken! In the last three weeks of term 1 we conducted assessments in all our subjects in order to have proper knowledge of how to proceed in term 2 as well as collect information for our first term reviews. One teacher after the other came and showed me results that told us that half of our learners can now read on a basic level, show high motivation for reading, can write their names and basic words, know how to add and subtract, know how to play pedagogical games on the computer, follow instructions in physical game activities and do activities that require fine motor skills such as colouring, tracing and cutting. According to our experienced teachers we are already well on track to reach the benchmarks for literacy and numeracy, not related to CAPS – but to Common Core (US academic standards).

Pics 17

This was an amazing surprise and we deserved to celebrate thoroughly! For our students, we threw an end of term/Easter party with egg hunting, bunny ears, home-made muffins and a dance show. A blast! For us: well, we really didn’t have much energy left.. and headed home for a well-deserved break.


The first term has really been an amazing journey—incredibly hectic and intense, and a steep learning process. But most importantly it has shown us that we will succeed! Our mission is to offer children and families in Jeppestown a low cost and high quality education where our learners are ensured a child- and learning-friendly environment. Yes, we can! On the other hand, we still have so many tasks to improve and adjust, to implement and develop before we have the whole school structure and resources in place. But we have achieved so much already despite all the challenges that come with starting a brand new school!

All thanks to an amazing team of teachers and tutors, interns and volunteers, secretary and cleaner, our school counselor, after school facilitators – and the most loving and charming group of learners. Term 2 – bring it on!

-Heidi Lindberg Augestad, Jeppe Park Primary School Leader

New Minds, New Ideas

The first branch of Street Light Schools is up and running. Jeppe Park Primary looks and feels like a primary school now. We have spent the first month and a half of year one finding our rhythm.

In the spirit of modelling the sort of behaviour we expect of the little ones, collaborative problem-solving has been the name of the game. We are focused on the vision of what we would like Jeppe Park Primary to be like, but just like a child needs to learn to walk, talk and create, we had lots of things to figure out and problems to solve.

It has taken some time to adjust to the larger team. However we have been transitioning gradually over the past few years. In the first year there were three permanent staff members and it was really intimate. We cried and laughed together. I often joked about not knowing what my job description was. Boundaries were limited in that regard. We did it all ourselves. The teaching, organising the library, the cleaning, the student recruitment, the counselling, taking pictures, writing for the blog, sourcing building materials, shopping, carrying heavy things, painting the new space, and the list goes on. We had a taste of a slightly bigger team for a couple of months when some lovely ladies from Italy and the States joined us as interns. By the end of that year I swear I could have taken a seven-day-long “power nap.”

The next year, was not very different. Except we had a few more helping hands. So we were able to share the load. The idea of having “my lane” started to come into our lives. Instead of doing everything under the sun and the moon, I knew what my job entails. We had a few new people, so we were able to now focus on all classroom related things. “Happy days, happy days!” A lovely social worker joined the team, and her presence took a huge load off of our emotional heavy lifting. Communications and social media has been taken over. Our project manager took a huge load off of the physical heavy lifting and other things that made it easier. And last but not least, our School Leader joined us and brought much inspiration and structure to the team. But of course, we were preparing to open a brand new school, so there was much to do for everybody.

This year, with the new school that has a person for everything plus some, we have to be reminded that there are people to help deal with all the challenges that we are dealt on the daily. We are learning from each other through observation and conversation. Although our conversations take much longer now that there are more opinions to be considered as we deliberate over decisions. We are all getting used to the different spectrum of personalities and communication styles. Our days are organised with space for individual and group planning, preparation and professional development slotted in between all the fun learning and exploration we are experiencing with the children. The innovative aspect of our school calls for many a debate over what we should try in our trial and error phase as we find our feet. More minds, more ideas, better solutions and greater growth.

-Dionne Mankazana

A great school: the magic ingredients



Jeppe Park Primary: Day One

After two and a half years of preparation, the moment finally came a few days ago: we launched the first Streetlight School- Jeppe Park Primary, in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. I cannot describe what it felt like to see children in their school uniforms with excited eyes looking at their new classrooms, learning the names of their new teachers and discovering a world made for their learning. It was beyond thrilling! Our mission has always been to demonstrate how exceptional education is within our reach for everyone in South Africa now. And with the school opening, I’d like to share some of the key recipes that makes that happen and where our national conversation should start (hint- it’s not test scores):

Community: a school for the next hundred years

A school has to be a part of the community it serves: it has to know what families in that community care and worry about, it has to know the constraints and assets within that community. Jeppe Park Primary’s school facility, aftercare, uniforms, school-feeding, social services and multilingualism are built to work within the framework of this community. When a school operates as a foreign, sanitised entity to its surroundings, it cannot create the legacy that comes with a great school.

Talent: Teachers matter

A school is only as good as the people who work there. Our school team consists of a mix of experienced educators and young people who are entering the teaching profession. What unites them is the seriousness with which they approach the responsibility of teaching children, and their willingness to reflect and improve on their craft. Creating an environment where everyone feels supported, and everyone knows that next week they will have honed their skills even more than this week lies at the heart of a culture of excellence.


Innovation: a sea-change in learning

We are at a special moment in the history of education: though school for us looked very similar to schools 50 years ago, the same is certainly not true for children who are starting school today. The opportunities presented by technology, new breakthroughs in the neuroscience of learning, sharing of curriculum and learning trends from across the globe and the changing trends of work in the 21st century means that we are in for an awakening in education. Now is the moment to renew our educational approaches: and a part of what makes Jeppe Park Primary great is a curriculum model that incorporates new trends like writing workshops, practical math, free play and thematic inquiry. We will continue to innovate, and try new things because every day more things become possible in education.

Melanie Smuts, Founder and CEO, Streetlight Schools 






Streetlight Schools is Looking for a Founding Teacher!

Position: Teacher, Full-Time, Streetlight Schools, Jeppestown
Works with: Melanie Smuts, Founder, CEO & School Leader, Jeppestown
Location: Jeppestown, Johannesburg

Streetlight Schools is a low-cost, innovative primary school opening in January 2016. Our unique approach focuses on enquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance and the use of technology to teach and learn to address the achievement shortfall in primary education in South Africa.

• We are launching our first Streetlight Primary School during the 2016 school year in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.

• We’ll have a team consisting of one School Leader, two qualified teachers and two teaching assistants, and an administrator. The team also includes the CEO who oversees overall growth of the organisation and a Curriculum Designer.

• The school will run 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. We will have complete academic responsibility over the students.

• Students, in addition to instructional classes, will engage in peer-to-peer learning, technology-based learning and project-enabled learning.

South Africa remains one of the worst countries in the world to be a child entering school. Only 1 out of 100 Grade 1 students will finish university, with only 20% of the country’s children performing at grade level. Primary school is crucial to later success in life: in some school systems, by age 7, children who score in the top 20% on tests of numeracy and literacy are already twice as likely to complete a university degree as children in the bottom 20%.

Meanwhile, there has never been a more exciting time to re-imagine education— technology can personalise learning cost-effectively and new strategies have emerged that drastically improve the potential for schools, even in underserved communities, to be places of great learning. What if we had a school that could create beautiful and imaginative, high-quality primary schools even in low-income communities?


1. Must have a PGCE or Bachelors in Education qualification preferably in Foundation-phase learning.

2. Understand what great learning looks like and are passionate about innovative education, and want to implement it through their teaching. Teachers with strong core capabilities in foundation-phase learning and a keen talent for early learning and instruction.

3. Have a desire to work in low-income communities in an urbanising environment and must be fluent either in isiZulu, isiSotho or isiXhosa.

4. Love working with children and enjoy thinking about how to engage their learning and development as individuals and strive to be boldly creative, innovative and resourceful in their approach.

5. Are open to feedback and sharing lessons and approaches among the team to achieve better learning collaboratively.

• Being responsible for a Grade R or Grade 1 class.

• Maintaining an academic standard that is equivaent to the top-performing quintile of South African schools as well as supporting the evaluation of students’ performance on our non-cognitive metrics, including creativity, conscientiousness, love of learning and wellness.

• Leading, and founding a strong culture that combines love of learning and rigour: where students feel that they are cared for, stay motivated, curious and flourishing.

• Being responsible for behavioural management and parental engagement. Promote and evaluate students’ performance on our non-cognitive metrics, including creativity, conscientiousness, love of learning and wellness.

• Promoting self-driven and mastery-based learning throughout in all lessons. Working with the School Leader and other teachers to found a school culture based on a love of learning and rigour.

R18, 000 p/m

INTERESTED? Please send Melanie Smuts your C.V. or LinkedIn profile and a thoughtful introduction that includes how you fit the five areas under who we’re looking for at

Streetlight Schools November Newsletter



We’re pleased to announce the newest member of the Streetlight Schools team, Ms. Heidi Augestad. Heidi will serve as the Principal at the first Streetlight School. Heidi has been dedicated to teaching and education since 1997. She has worked in the education sector in Norway, her home nation, and headed and pre- and primary school in the East African State of Eritrea.

Heidi holds a BA in Social Science, History and Sociology and received her professional teacher training from the University of Oslo. She received her Masters in Education and Development in 2010 from Oslo University College–focusing specifically on comparative education systems in disadvantaged communities in Sudan and South Africa. She conducted her research in a public secondary school in Crossroads, Cape Town.

Please join us in giving Heidi a warm welcome!


What’s been your favourite moment at Streetlight Schools to date?

I have been a part of the Streetlight Schools team for three months now and there have been many great moments. Getting to know the children in the Learning Centre is a favourite moment each time I see them! I am so amazed by their positivity and eagerness to learn and, not at least, how they welcome all new staff with an open minds, big hugs and great smiles.

What surprised you most about the Jeppestown community?

Jeppestown is a community with many diverse challenges. But, I find it to be so much more than that–there are a lot of amazing and inspiring projects happening, initiated by Bjala and Streetlight Schools. Together with the people living in Jeppestown, I believe that the Streetlight Schools will contribute to the inspiring development of this community.

What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming school year?

Ohh, everything! Most of all to see our students engaged in learning and grow confident and happy. There is a lot of planning and preparations that we’re doing now before the 2016 school year starts. It’s going to be really exciting to finally put it all into practice. Our staff will be well prepared to welcome the children in January and to provide them with a school year filled with academic knowledge and creative skills in a safe, learning-focused and child-friendly environment.


The walls are up for five classrooms in our new school. It’s wonderful to see the space coming together nicely for our learners. Construction to date has been a whirlwind and it’s been great to see our plans come to life. See below for a few images of our school in progress!







This year Streetlight Schools is 1000 Drawings’ beneficiary organization. For the past year, artists, the general public, and of course, our kids have created doodles on A5 paper to be sold for R100 each.

Please join us at Night of 1000 Drawings on Thursday, November 19 for the sale of these artworks—100% of the proceeds will benefit Streetlight Schools. All drawings created at the Doodle Session we hosted last month will be on sale, too (see the great write up on the event here)!

More information can be found on Facebook, here. Feel free to share the invitation with friends! You can buy tickets for 19 November here.



Our second annual Crowdrise campaign is underway. Through 21 November we’ll be accepting any and all donations to help make our vision for quality primary school education in South Africa a reality. All donations will go towards the completion of the first Streetlight School, opening in Jeppestown on 12 January 2016.

The campaign will end with the Streetlight Schools 5K Run for Funds through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York on 21 November. If you’re a New Yorker, sign up and join in on the fun with your friends! If you know of anyone in the NYC area, please encourage them to participate.

A special thanks to Mohsen Malik for spearheading this effort! As of this morning we’ve raised just over 42% of our $25,000 goal. We’re so happy with the progress so far—help us to reach our goal by 21 November!


Our kids at the Learning Center are getting an education in the art of graffiti thanks to Boyd Hill, a City of Gold artist-in-residence. After a couple workshops on patterns, and spray painting techniques, our learners created a collection of vests and t-shirts! Take a look at some photos from the workshops below, and be sure to take a look at Boyd’s blog for more details.





IMG_7587We need your help, Streetlight family! Every Saturday, from 14 November to 8 January (excluding Christmas and New Year weekend) we’ll be working to get the first Streetlight School in tip-top shape.

Come lend a hand and bring your talents to this wonderful project. Activities will include: painting, installing shelves, setting up classrooms, putting up curtains, doing minor repairs, making cool DIY lights. We’d love for you to be a part of this exciting time for Streetlight. For more info  contact Tyler at 082 457 8647.

Turn on the light for one child

Streetlight Schools is in the run-up to opening its first school January 2016.  We have designed a low-cost, high-quality innovative primary school model to address the achievement shortfall in primary education in South Africa. On 12 January 2016 we launch our first school where we will transform 80 lives of children. Help us by turning on the light for one child. I’d like to give you three reasons why I think you should contribute: 
  1. We can have tremendous impact
    Research shows that an investment in a child in their first years of schooling is the best guarantee of success in later life. In many school systems, the reading ability of a child in the second grade is already a predictor of whether they will go to university. I started this organisation with the aim of re-imagining education in South Africa. Our knock-on effects will go beyond the direct beneficiaries will be an entire way of looking at education that can help us tackle some of our most intractable challenges. You can help us take the first steps.
  2. Every student we cover in 2016 is an investment in perpetuity
    From Year 2 (2017) we are eligible for a subsidy from the government and our school becomes self-sustainable. We only need to raise for these kids this one upcoming year: thereafter the school sustains itself going forward.
  3. We are the people we have been waiting for
    At some point in your life, someone cared enough for you to pay for your education and transform your future. I believe in the children of Jeppestown, and I know that we will transform their futures. I want to live in a world where it’s us: ordinary people who invest directly in the wellbeing of others.

To show our gratitude to you, we will be putting your name on our website as a sponsor, as well as putting your name on our founding donor wall in the school. If you would like to remain anonymous, please notify me. If you are based in South Africa, we will also be shipping you a personalised gift to express our gratitude.

How to donate:
For a contribution of R780 ($65) a month you could be a part of the story of how we can start to transform education in South Africa. Donations are 100% tax-deductible in South Africa and the US. Join in with a friend; sponsor a child as a family, or as work-colleagues. Sponsor more than one child. Sponsor half a child – it doesn’t matter to us. For every child that we have fully sponsored we are one step closer to opening the school. Join those who have already committed to signing on and help us put a child through school for one year.

Email to join and find out more.

By committing to sponsor one child, you’ve committed to donating a total of R9, 375 (or $750) in any payment schedule that suits you. Monthly donations of R780.25 ($62.50) or quarterly donations R2343,75 ($187,50) are also completely acceptable. Whatever works for you: just let us know which you choose.

Our donation cycle for this campaign will run from August 2015 to November 2016. Though we prefer to have donations come in earlier (September to March), we are open to have them come through until November.

If donating from South Africa
Please deposit directly into the bank account:

Streetlight Schools
FNB Business Account Account
# 62464302620
Branch: Rosebank
Code: 253305

Streetlight Schools has high degree of financial transparency and are audited by PWC annually. For a donations invoice, please email with your full name and address. Once the donation is reflected in our account, we will be able to furnish you with an invoice for the full amount.

If donating from the US:
Donations to us are also fully tax-deductible via our 501(c) US Partner-institution, the Omprakash Foundation. To donate in the US, do so via our donations page:

If donating internationally:
Please donate via our PayPal account via our website:

Repost: Thoughts from Athambile Masola on Free Schools and School Culture

Approaching the elephant: reflections on school culture

On Wednesday some of the Streetlight team and a few passionate educators watched “Approaching the Elephant” – a film about a Free School. Here, Athambile, an English teacher, sums up some of the interesting and challenging aspects of school culture. You can read more about her reflections on her blog:
I recently watched the film Approaching the elephant

I walked away from the film feeling exhausted. Not because of the length of the film but rather I had been consumed by the lives of the teachers and children whose lives were embroiled in a school environment that is unfamiliar to me. The film explores the experience of being in a free school. Until recently I knew nothing about free schools. According to the prologue of the films, the idea of free schools goes back to the early 1900s. The film shows us a structure that is unfamiliar to many of us who have gone through traditional systems of education. In a free school there are no structured lessons. Students and teachers make decisions democratically through council meetings that can also be chaired by the students. By students I mean children: most of the students at the free school featured in the movie appear to be younger than 13. The only rules in place when the school begins are rules related to the safety of the children. The rest of the school culture is determined as the life of the school unfolds.While watching with the film the following thoughts came to mind:

  • Schools are age-old institutions intricately linked to what society and the power structures determine as a good school. The free school in the film seeks to undermine he idea of what a school should be. This is seen as an alternative view to what schooling should be. This is valuable but many questions can be posed in response to the value of this aproach: to what end? What is the end of creating a school that does not match up with the standards of what society thinks should be a “good school”? And there are many response to this question; one being that, well, the idea of what is a “good school” is determined by many factors: being in a capitalist society, getting kids in certain universities, getting kids to think in a particular way etc.
  • Is it possible to undermine power dynamics which schools require in order to make sense? By power dynamics I am referring to the relationship between teachers and students. The children in the film seem to have equal power with the adults who supervise in the school. For example, they call them by name and the children feel that they are allowed to tell the adults exactly how they feel about issues. The children’s voices matter: often more than the adults’ voices. My students would love to call me by name but the tradtional culture we have in my school dictates that they call me “Ms. Masola” (except the Drama department in our school subverts this culture and the kids call them by their names, even nicknames!). I have a lot of power as a teacher because I am the adult in the room and I have been given the power to have the dominant voice. Sometimes this makes me uncomfortable because my students are less likely to challenge me.
  • How do we break the mold  in schools but keeping a sense of order? There’s a lot of chaos in the free school. There’s very little chaos in my school (even when it’s break time: the perceived sense of freedom during our school time). My first year of teaching was chaotic. My classroom management skills were non-existent. And when I did start to develop some they were often ineffective. Schools thrive on order: we have bells and times indicating what kids should be doing at any given time. But do we (teachers/management) stop to consider what message we are giving children about their sense of freedom while they are in school?
  • On a more positive note, the film made me think about the messages we give them about how and when they can express themselves. The kids in the free school are very expressive. The use the words “feel” many times — I feel like we should…– which is unusual. One of the directors in the school, Alex, also gets very emotional when things don’t seem to be working out the way he imagined. This is also unusual: expressing emotions can often be perceived as unprofessional. We rant and rave about our experiences as teachers behind closed doors and not in front of the children: unless it’s anger and it is directed towards them. But the children in the free school understand emotion and respond to it appropriately often prefacing their response with “I don’t mean to be mean but I’m just be truthful”. I’ve only ever seen this kind of expression when I worked in a primary school as a stooge (a live-in teacher at a hostel). The experience taught me many things about children, especially the fact that children have a sense of justice when something is unfair and when something is right. Somehow we silence that sense of justice and by the time kids are in high school we have to have explicit “upstander campaign” encouraging teenagers to stand up when they see someone being bullied. This isn’t a problem per se, however, I I find it interesting that the older we get the more blurred lines become about when we should express ourselves with a sense of justice for ourselves as individuals and for others.
  • During the film one of the kids gets expelled. The decision is made through a vote by the adults and the children: this is unheard of in any school. Expulsion is a decision left to the head of the school and the governing body (and if it’s a public school) the department of education. The fact that the children have a voice in the decision-making of the school highlights that children’s voices matter. However, watching the kids decide that Giovanni should leave also felt like a different version of The Lord of the flies where children stuck on an island become their own law-makers. So this leaves me with another question: to what extent do we need adults to guide children to make decisions about their experiences and the world around them.
Finally, the film made me think about school culture: the big and small questions we ask ourselves about what we are doing in schools. And more importantly, the film requires us to think about the unanswerable and much disputed questions about the purpose of education. After watching the film I had more questions than a formed idea. I was also left with questions about what I do in my classroom as a teacher and more importantly, what I think still needs to happen in my classroom.

Internship and Volunteer positions at Streetlight – applications open!

Fun intern pic 5

Staff meeting at Streetlight Schools

Come  do meaningful work with some of the nicest people, at a gorgeous office in Johannesburg for the coolest “clients” you can imagine.

We have a revolving recruitment schedule for interns and volunteers so if any of the positions below appeal to you, please email us at Please attach your resume/CV and a motivational letter clearly indicating which post you are applying for. 

Volunteer positions are unpaid, part-time roles with no specific time limit. Internships are normally 3-6 months and full-time. Some internships pay a stipend and free housing is provided for international interns. Some positions can be performed remotely. Fun intern pic 3


Tutor support (Volunteer, on-site):
Tutor support roles involve working in the Education Lab supporting full-time tutors in working with our learners -Supporting full-time tutors with learners who need more individual support. This includes homework assistance, individual coaching for learners who are struggling with concepts and helping to administer assessments occasionally. – Supervising learners in the Computer Lab and assisting with special projects in art, science, drama, sports etc. – Helping to develop a love of reading: managing story-time reading, assisting learners in the library to select books, help learners to read out loud. – Research assistance to full-time tutors: support in developing lesson plans, research and setting up classes. Helping to find high-quality educational content including videos, materials and plans.


The office

Program implementation (Volunteer/Internship, on-site):
A program Implementation role involves ensuring that day to day implementation of the runs optimally. – Working directly with the CEO to oversee all aspects of creating successful day-to-day operations of the Education Lab and flagging any bottlenecks or issues to the CEO to ensure that the implementation of projects continue to run smoothly. – Problem-solving on issues of maintenance, planning, ensuring that proper equipment, resources and technology are available ahead of time for lessons and projects. – Support the CEO in Monitoring and Evaluation of all key components of the Education Lab program with an eye to finding areas for improvement. – Tracking progress on teams conducting minor building works and repairs, implementation of technology, addressing any assisting tutors with planning the implementation of curriculum projects, checking that all data is captured and stored correctly.

Communications (Intern/Volunteer, on-site): Communication volunteers are responsible for maintaining our social media presence and growing our online community of followers. -Creating content (such as pictures, videos and blog-posts) – Curating content (such as interesting articles and posts on education) – Updating social medial platforms: including Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress and LinkedIn. – Linking platforms and integrating communications. Growing our social networks. – Assisting with writing thank-you letters, upFun intern pic 2dates and reports to stakeholders. – Help to plan events and fundraising initiatives, including crowdfunding campaigns.

Technology and Programming (Volunteer/Intern, on-site): – Maintain the Raspberry Pi Lab (fix errors, do updates, improve system capability). Install Operating Systems on new Pi’s and install them into the network. – Research the best programs that are compatible with the Pi Lab and our metrics (especially Open Source learning software) and how the Pi Lab can be customized to continuously improve. – Research, develop and implement other high-quality blended learning hardware solutions (tablets, chromebooks or other materials). – Research, develop and introduce coding lessons to be integrated into the school curriculum – Support with website updates and development and launching of Streetlight’s online platforms.

Fun intern pic 1Curriculum Researcher (Volunteer/Intern, remote/on-site): Help us to bring together available Open Source Learning resources that are appropriate for the content and ages covered in the Learning Centre. – Conduct research on different pedagogies, lesson structures and outcomes that could enrich our model: this includes collaborative learning strategies, project-based learning strategies and technology-enabled learning; as well as fostering learner-driven engagements, inquiry-focused curricula etc. – Research best practice in next-generation schools around the world and design implementation of context-appropriate learning strategies in our Education Lab. – Support and assist with assessment profiles, including research on non-cognitive testing methodologies, testing tools for children with specific learning challenges. -Assessment: developing out our innovative testing tool that includes research and implementation on how to measure lateral thinking, cognition, focus, self-confidence, creativity and other non-cognitive skill sets. Assist with an online version of this tool. Conduct tests and monitor implementation of testing profiles.

Fun intern pic 4

Sometimes we get our hands a little dirty…

Business Development (Internship, on-site): – Assist with budget research, cost-evaluation, case studies on growth of other school chains, researching investment opportunities and improving marketing materials – Developing out areas of Streetlight  innovations into stand-alone concepts to go to market. – Finding and develop out unexplored alternative revenue streams within the existing resources of the organisation.

The Education Lab before we started

The Education Lab before

The Education Lab now

The Education Lab now

Thank you for backing us. Here’s what we did with your contribution.

A thank-you letter to all of our  crowdfunding supporters.

A few years back, when I was still a law student, a friend posted a link of The most beautiful and imaginative public schools in the world. This post really stuck with me. I kept returning to it and staring at those pictures feeling something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I didn’t know then that I would one day start a school. To share pictures of our beautiful and imaginative Education Lab today is absolutely surreal.

Our Raspberry Pi Lab

Our Raspberry Pi Lab

I want to thank you for your contribution without which we could not have built this space. I am thankful not just for your direct contribution but that you are willing to be a part of a generation that accepts that we have the ability to be in service of those who currently do not access the educational opportunities that they deserve: that we can all be directly connected to improving the status quo.

Education is liberation. John Langilabele Dube, knew this a century ago when he founded Ohlangle High School as he was helping to launch the ANC- the party that lead to democracy for South Africa in 1994 under Nelson Mandela. Ohlange is also where Mandela chose to cast his vote in a free South Africa.

Children are allowed to read in the library whenever they have free time.

Children can read in the library whenever they have free time.

South Africa is in a profound educational crisis. Children come out of our primary schools still functionally illiterate and innumerate. We suffer from the deliberate disenfranchisement of millions of black learners under apartheid: a legacy we have not come close to addressing. We are also still hamstrung by inferior industrial education that communities globally are realising inadequately prepare children for life.

You are helping us change that. Thank you for helping us build the first step to opening our first school and challenging that reality. I believe that it is through us: people talking to people, that we will make this change happen. Thank you for validating that belief.

Here’s what we have learned so far in opening the Education Lab

Getting to this point today took multiple failures, innovations, strokes of luck and innumerate gestures of generosity: of time, money and hard labour. Here are some of the things we discovered:

Melanie Smuts: CEO + Founder of Streetlight Schools

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Thank you for backing us. Here’s what we did with your contribution.