Bocconi University Challenge

Designing a school payment mechanism that encourages parents to regularly pay fees without creating any disadvantage for the children.


About Streetlight Schools:
Streetlight Schools is launching scalable primary schools with an innovative learning model to address the achievement shortfall in primary education in South Africa. Our unique approach focuses on enquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance and the use of technology to teach and learn.

The problem:
Before the launch of the first school, Streetlight reviewed all schools in the neighbourhood and surveyed parents in the area to make sure that the cost of education was affordable to parents within the community, and provides significant support to parents within the community who would like to attend the school but cannot pay fees.

However, there remains a significant percentage (15-20%) of parents that, even if though they are financially capapble of paying school fees, do not actually pay them. This is a problem that affects every low-fee private school in our area, Jeppestown, a poor neighbourhood of Johannesburg. It also creates unfairness- especially for parents who do pay on time.

Traditionally, local schools have dealt with non-payment by banning children from coming to school when their parents don’t pay on time – damaging their learning progress and making them unfairly responsible. At Streetlight this is not an option: we commit to providing low-cost quality education to poor communities without comprising on the service provided to the children and the overall sustainability of the school.

That is why it is important to find a workable solution for both the children and the school.

We are open to any kind of solution: an incentive scheme for the parents, an innovation in the definition of school fees (their timing, their quantity..), and so forth. Everything is welcomed. Bear in mind that simpler, easily implementable solutions will be favoured over expensive and complicated solutions.

Please come up with every smart idea that lies in the back of your mind. After the challenge is closed, a team composed of Bocconi University students and the Streetlight staff will examine the solution and choose a winner (or two if we consider it fair).

If possible, we will work as hard as we can to implement the winning idea, resulting in a genuine improvement in the lives of children.

How to participate?
You have two options:
- Comment this blog post providing the details of your solution
- Send your solution to

What will you get from the challenge?
1. You get to face a stimulating challenge.
2. The possibility to have a real impact. You can help Streetlight Schools grow sustainably, improve the education of Jeppestown children and, hopefully, a lot of children of disadvantaged families throughout South Africa in the future. Remember: schools can change a neighbourhood forever.
3. A really nice Thank You picture from some of the Streetlight students