Education

November 7, 2023

South African school wins world best prize, Nigerian makes top 10

TimeON KAIROS Poly

By Elizabeth Osayande

SPARK Soweto, an independent, partially government-funded kindergarten and primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, has emerged winner of the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration 2023.

SPARK Soweto was chosen as the winner of the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration 2023 from among the Top 3 finalists for the Prize, which also included William Henry Burkhart Elementary in the US and Escola Municipal Professor Edson Pisani in Brazil.

The school and all of its fellow finalists will share their best practices to help others replicate their work through School Transformation Toolkits and events on the T4 Communities app.

The five World’s Best School Prizes, founded last year by T4 Education in collaboration with Accenture, American Express, and the Lemann Foundation, are the world’s most prestigious education prizes and this year’s winners share an award of $250,000.

Other winners included: Institución Educativa Municipal Montessori sede San Francisco in Colombia, which won the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action; The Riverside School in India won the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation; The Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School won the World’s Best School Prize for Overcoming Adversity; “And EEMTI Joaquim Bastos Gonçalves in Brazil won the World’s Best School Prize for Supporting Healthy Lives.

These winners were chosen by an expert Judging Academy.

Meanwhile, Government Girls Day Secondary School, Runjin Sambo, a government school in Sokoto, Nigeria, which has transformed the lives of thousands of teenage girls through its Menstrual Hygiene programme, made the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Overcoming Adversity.

In addition, a new Community Choice Award was presented this year to Escola Municipal Professor Edson Pisani in Brazil after it won the most votes of all the World’s Best School Prizes finalists in a Public Vote. It will now receive membership to T4 Education’s new Best School to Work programme, an independent, evidence-based mechanism to certify schools for their culture and help them transform their working environment to attract and retain the best teachers.

Speaking of the award, the Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, Vikas Pota, congratulated SPARK Soweto for her win.

“My deepest congratulations to SPARK Soweto in South Africa. Educators across the world should look to the shining example of your school in the difference you have made to so many lives. Governments must look to the trailblazing work you have done as they seek answers to the great challenges we face today. Where you lead, they must follow.

“This tremendous moment has been made possible by the leadership, vision, and culture your school has fostered and it brings me great pride to bestow upon you the World’s Best School Prize for Community Collaboration 2023.:

SPARK Soweto is an independent, partially government-funded kindergarten and primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa. By prioritising affordability, community engagement, and environmental stewardship, this school has become a catalyst for change for its disadvantaged community, which was once symbolic of the struggle against Apartheid.

With initiatives that tackle social and economic challenges head-on, such as curbing local unemployment and addressing gender-based violence, the impact this school has made in such a short time is the result of listening and responding to the community.

SPARK Soweto’s model is rooted in the five core values of Service, Persistence, Achievement, Responsibility, and Kindness (SPARK), and the school’s community is further enshrined in the 6th core value of Ubuntu – ‘I am because we are.’ As such, the school prioritised community engagement from its very inception which involved interacting with and surveying the community to understand their educational and social needs.

SPARK Soweto plans to use the prize funds to continue to build on the community initiatives that have already shown significant impact.

The school believes that it takes a village to raise tomorrow’s leaders and is committed to investing in the community that supports the school.

Meanwhile, applications have opened for the World’s Best School Prizes 2024.

While applications end on February 23, 2024, the winning schools next year will share a prize fund of $50,000.