One of Gauteng’s most highly regarded independent schools will be opening a campus in Soweto in January next year.
The principal of the new SPARK Soweto, Gundo Mmbi, is delighted to be part of this momentous occasion.
“What I am particularly proud of is that our education model shows that quality independent education is in the reach of many and not only the wealthy. And it costs less than some government schools. SPARK Schools may be a relative newcomer to the South African private education scene but it is already having a huge impact and earlier this year was placed in the top three in a list of the top 10 private schools in Johannesburg by a leading publication,” she says.
SPARK Schools believes in providing high-calibre education with impressive results at an affordable cost to working parents. They do this through their use of a blended learning model that combines direct instruction with technology. After children are taught in class, they move to a Learning Lab, where computers with adaptive software track and improve their grasp of concepts. The data collected is then used to tailor-make a learning path for each child by providing micro-objectives on how they’re performing.
Mmbi said, “Blended learning is a solution to the education crisis in South Africa. Through blended learning, scholars are active participants in their own education by learning at their own pace. I believe blended learning has empowered our scholars to be able to navigate and excel in this fourth industrial world that we are in. SPARK’s blended learning is what made me want to work here.”
Limpopo born Mmbi studied education at the University of Witwatersrand and graduated with a Bachelor of Education with a major in Mathematics and English in 2015. She was previously Assistant Principal of SPARK Turffontein.
“Growing up, I loved mathematics and understood it a bit better than most of my peers. I then started teaching and helping my peers understand mathematics and found joy in knowing that I helped them master their content and my love for teaching grew from that.”
She believes that it is vital that parents play a pivotal role in their children’s education.
“Several studies show that when a parent is invested in their child’s education, their child’s academic progress is above average. A parent is the child’s first teacher. Our job is to partner with parents, it is as simple as that.”
She may already be a school Principal but Mmbi isn’t one to rest on her laurels: “I would like to graduate in 2022 with my Ph.D. in mathematics and help revise the Maths curriculum in South Africa through research work to enable us to close the gaps created by the current and previous curriculums. I would also like to publish a book on how teachers can personalise mathematics for their scholars.”
With regards to some of the challenges faced in schools, she said, “A school’s first responsibility is to ensure the safety of its students and of its staff. We have seen a rise in security concerns for children and adults in schools, which is a result of a lack of focus on social-emotional learning. We need to teach scholars to express themselves effectively and teachers to genuinely care for scholars and respond to their needs. This will make our schools safer and allow us to focus on instruction and driving student achievement.”