Stacey Brewer

Chief Executive, eAdvance

There are people who complain about things incessantly and there are those who decide to do their bit towards making a difference.

Stacey Brewer (30) is one of the latter.

Brewer is the chief executive of the eAdvance Group, the aim of which is to revolutionise South African education through the introduction of blended learning models that combine teaching in the classroom with the deliberate use of technology to elevate student results. Brewer and her friend Ryan Harrison have initiated a network of affordable private schools – called SPARK Schools – which implement this model for primary school learners.

They opened their first school in January 2013 and their second this year.

Currently, they have 350 children across two campuses, and two more schools are on the cards for next year. That will bring the total of learners they serve up to 1500.

“The academic results are outstanding,” says Brewer. “Our children at SPARK are achieving at least one year ahead of their peers in South Africa. For example, our grade R children are reading independently by the end of grade R, which is only seen at the end of at least grade 2 in other schools.”

Due to these successes, Pearson, one of the world’s leading education companies, has partnered with eAdvance to open more schools over the next few years. It was Brewer’s MBA thesis that served as a foundation for the establishment of the concept. After completing her bachelor of science degree at Rhodes University, she won a scholarship for the entrepreneurship MBA programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, where she chose to focus on coming up with a sustainable financial model for low-fee private schools in South Africa.

“The state of education in South Africa inspired us to provide schools that are high quality at an affordable cost. We wanted to provide an education model that proved that any child, irrespective of their background, could achieve just as well, if not better, than children from affluent schools. We wanted to provide a education model that was transferable into any community and is affordable,” she says.

Brewer’s journey has just begun. She and her team are constantly focusing on improving how they can better serve their learners and develop their teachers.

“Serving children to the best of our ability is at the heart of SPARK Schools.” — Fatima Asmal