Streetlight Schools: Growing Grade by Grade in Jeppestown

Jeppestown, Johannesburg
Intuthuko Equity Fund and purchase plus construction finance.

Jeppestown, Johannesburg

Johannesburg, 03 March 2020 – From humble beginnings as an after-school programme, housed in a small storeroom in Bjala Square, Streetlight Schools’ flagship Jeppe Park Primary has grown to an innovative, 4 Star Green Star rated primary school for Grades R-5.

“Jeppe Park Primary fully embodies the concept of impact through scale,” says Lusanda Netshitenzhe, Development Impact Manager at TUHF. “It has not only converted a disused shoe factory into a globally competitive school that provides quality education in one of the most underserved communities in South Africa – but has also integrated with the local community so extensively as to have a far-reaching impact on the surrounding area.”

For example, the professional team involved in designing and building the school’s facilities sourced much of the construction and fitout materials used in the primary school campus, as well as a third of the construction team, from within a 200m radius.

In addition, much of the school’s teaching staff share similar backgrounds to the learners and have been trained by Streetlight Schools to enter the teaching profession for the first time (with help from Instil Education, Reggio Emilia Alliance and more). These two examples have created work opportunities for Jeppestown residents and involved the local community in the school’s development every step of the way.

The school’s presence also played a key role in the refurbishment of Jeppe Park across the road, where the community and municipality got involved to improve safety for the children, most of whom walk to and from school.

The school has grown with its pupils. “We started with just 70 Grade R learners in 2016, and we’ve grown a Grade every year,” says David Fu, CEO of Streetlight Schools.

In 2018, when Streetlight Schools approached TUHF for a grant through its CSI fund, the school had grown to 261 learners from Grade R-4.

TUHF’s grant of R 150 000 has funded the addition of two new Grade 5 classes, allowing 2019’s Grade 4s to move on to their next year of education at the school. The grant also allowed for the addition of a third Grade 1 class to meet the demand at the early stages, so that Jeppe Park Primary now caters for 315 learners in total.

This isn’t TUHF’s first contribution to Jeppe Park Primary’s development. “In the early days, TUHF helped us build the playground, both in the form of materials donated and time from a number of employees,” Fu confirms.

TUFH is invested in Bjala Square too, enabling the school’s landlord to make an even more meaningful impact in the area, and on the school itself.

Bjala’s aquaponics farm provides Streetlight Schools with a stimulating space for its extracurricular activities, effectively creating an outdoor classroom for the kids. School-ground greening and the rooftop farm brings learning about nature to life, while the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability incorporates recycling to teach children about waste, and art projects using discarded materials teach them about repurposing.

“It’s such a pleasure to see two of our major investments in inner-city regeneration support each other and meld together so effectively,” says Netshitenzhe.

Fu agrees; “Bjala has given us the backbone and stability we need to operate a school here for generations to come. They even subsidised our rent here in the early days, which really helped us to get established.”

The school’s future includes three more classrooms, indoor play courtyards, additional bathrooms and a staff room for middle school teachers, as well as expansions to the library and a new computer room. Jeppe Park Primary aims to grow to 500 learners, doubling its impact in the community and beyond.