Shining a light on education: two young entrepreneurs start LUX College and join ISASA

| August 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY Jessica Cardoso And Lauren Mare

Mathletes Education Centre was our first baby – born when, after many years of private tutoring, Jessica Cardoso discovered that in 2012 in South Africa, the average pass rate for Grade 9 mathematics students was 13%.1

Cardoso decided to formalise her tutoring enterprise to help solve the problem. Mathletes took off and grew from strength to strength, requiring Cardoso to recruit other tutors – among them, Lauren Mare. In its second year, a second Mathletes Education Centre was opened. At this point, Cardoso and Mare decided to open a school together, based on our findings that there was inadequate quality, affordable schooling in the Alberton/Ekurhuleni South region of Gauteng. Many schools were overpopulated, leaving administrators and teachers flustered and parents unhappy.

The idea of starting a school was definitely bold – and one that we frequently imagined would never actually materialise. This is because the process of applying to open a school challenged us with many hurdles along the way.

An ambitious approach

We wanted to create our own school culture, with a strong emphasis on quality. We therefore chose an ambitious name (“LUX” refers to light) and set about implementing small, intimate and interactive classroom environments and finding qualified, dynamic, adaptable teachers who could be described as visionaries in their capacity to cater to the different needs of each child.

We believe that the use of teacher assistants ensures that each lesson progresses smoothly. They prevent any child from falling behind and, at the same time, the lessons provide valuable teaching experience for the assistants.

Key philosophies

Our motto is “Illustrare per educationem”. We seek to enlighten our students by providing them with an environment in which they can think critically about the world and the everyday problems that we, as a South African population, face. We sought to create a school that learners want to attend every day; one where they are motivated to challenge themselves and to achieve their individual best.

At the same time, we want to impart the concepts of responsibility and accountability to our learners, who often take for granted the sacrifice that many parents/guardians make to put them through 12 years of schooling. We want to help our learners understand that their academic performance is as much their responsibility as it is that of the school and its teachers. We know that childhood and adolescence are fun times, but we also believe that this is the best time to create well-balanced, civic-minded young adults.

We also feel strongly that there should be a balance of academics and extramural activities. As a small, new independent school, it was difficult to facilitate sporting and cultural options, as we did not yet have the facilities. However, we came up with the perfect solution to get us through the initial start-up stage. LUX College offers swimming, golf, ball skills, soccer and netball – all of which are outsourced to a group of qualified, enthusiastic sports companies such as AEC Swimming School2 and Golf Funatix, as well as the Alberton Cricket Company.3

Future plans

LUX College can currently only accommodate 30 children; however, we are in the process of building our own new facility. LUX College has no investors and only has the financial backing of its sister company, Mathletes Education Centre. Because building a school is an extremely expensive task, it will be built in phases. We aim to be in a position to accommodate 100 students in our second year, and will continue to grow from there. According to our five-year growth plan, we will have our first class of matric learners in the year 2019.

We are grateful to the students and brave parents who enrolled with us in our first year.

Joining ISASA

Becoming an ISASA member was a priority. It has already proven to be an essential tool, in that it provides potential parents with confidence that LUX College has the backing and support of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa. ISASA regional director, Theo Bucolli, has guided us through both the process of opening the school and applying to join ISASA, always giving us the best advice when we felt we were losing our minds. He has been invaluable to the opening of LUX College, and we are so appreciative of his unconditional support. Being an ISASA member has given us exposure to a wealth of knowledge. We are thrilled to know that ISASA has
confidence in LUX College and its future success.

References:

1. See, for example: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/documents/ave-performancein- grade-9-maths-ana-13—angie-mot.
2. See: http://www.aecswimming.co.za/.
3. See: http://www.cricketcompany.co.za/.

Category: Spring 2016

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