eAdvance and Spark Schools
- Affordable blended learning school chain called Spark Schools
- Spark have eight schools open today across Gauteng and the Western Cape
- Plans to reach 64 schools and over 60,000 students
- 91% of SPARK scholars achieved a year and a half of growth in reading during the 2013 school year and more than 50% of SPARK scholars concluded 2013 above international grade level standards in mathematics
The state of South African education is stark, with South Africa consistently ranked among the worst performing education systems in the world. Despite its status as a middle-income country, South Africa is consistently ranked among one of the worst performing education systems in the world. The Swiss-based World Economic Forum ranks South Africa 146th out of 148 countries for educational quality – and last in mathematics and science education specifically.
While pursuing an MBA at Gordon Institute of Business Science, SPARK Schools co-founders Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison decided that, instead of waiting for others to create the change in education, it was up to them to do so.
SPARK Schools has bold aspirations to disrupt the South African education system through introducing an innovative learning methodology to the African continent. They are implementing Africa’s first blended learning model for primary school students. In the SPARK Schools model, students split their time between digital content that adapts in difficulty to their learning and classroom interaction based on best practice pedagogy. The technology in the model allows for teachers to spend more time on group learning. Blended learning models, re-engineered and adapted to meet the constraints of developing world markets, have the potential to transform teacher’s pedagogical approach, whilst drastically improving student learning outcomes.
In addition, schools have an extended school day. The school day starts with Sparks Fly, an exciting and fun morning assembly. Then, the rigorous academic programme encourages SPARK students to develop a genuine love of learning in joyful and engaging classrooms. Aftercare and further enrichment and sport is also available.
The first SPARK school opened in 2013 and achieved brilliant academic results in its first year of operation. Preliminary academic results from the first class of 161 students are overwhelmingly positive: 91% of SPARK scholars achieved a year and a half of growth in reading during the 2013 school year and more than 50% of SPARK scholars concluded 2013 above international grade level standards in mathematics.
Importantly, the blended model also allows eAdvance to deliver high quality education at an affordable price. Each SPARK school charges students approximately R13,000 (US $1,200) per year, slightly less than the R14,000 ($1,300) per student that the South African government spends per student. This is significantly lower than the vast majority of private schools in South Africa, some of which charge upwards of R100,000 per year.
In January 2014, eAdvance launched its second school (SPARK Cresta) and today have four schools across Johannesburg.
After completing her Bachelor of Science at Rhodes University, Stacey won a scholarship for the entrepreneurship MBA programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. There, Stacey channelled her investment in educational improvement into her thesis, which focused on a sustainable financial model for low-fee private schools in South Africa. This research served as the foundation for the establishment of eAdvance and SPARK Schools.
Ryan earned his Bachelor of Social Science degree, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Media Management from Rhodes University. Thereafter, he travelled to Canada to serve as a business information systems analyst for the British Columbia Transmission Corporation. Ryan subsequently returned to South Africa to enter the MBA programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He graduated cum laude and received the Lephatsi Investment Award for Leadership and the Smollan Holdings Award for Marketing Practice and Technology.
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