OUR STORY

AN ENTHUSIASTIC TEEN AND AN UBER RIDE IS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN...

Daniyal Manekia then 16 years old, inspired by the United World College’s approach to education which encourages learners to actively participate in shaping a better world, and the strong spirit of community instilled in him throughout his upbringing, approached his parents with bringing the concept of digital early childhood learning to South Africa. Many months and many meetings with Department of Education later the project was still on paper…until his mom's car broke down. The long drive from Pretoria to Joburg with a motivated Mr Laurence Lekgowane and his mom venting about bureaucratic red tape resulted in a meeting with Mr Lawrence Mukhari, principal of Shirinda Primary and the powering on of the first BrightLights Learning Lab.

ABOUT US

Inspired by Daniyal's vision, BrightLights is founded by motivated individuals and is an independent, non-affiliated, non-profit organization.

Currently a registered NPO by the Department of Social Development, BrightLights is in the process of applying for its independent 18(A) status and we will update the site once that has been received.

BrightLights aims to equalize opportunities for the underserved children by providing them with digital learning tools in a bright and conducive environment.

We have a deliberate focus on early childhood education as study after study has proven that children are most fearless, receptive, and adaptive in their younger years.  Statistics show a R1 invested in early childhood education returns as much as R7 as the individuals develop into productive and contributing members of society.

Three pillars underlying BrighLights are, to work in underserved areas, with a focus on early childhood education, using a measurable, scalable, and repeatable solution.

Today the program creates a foundation for excellence in English and Math by blending classroom teaching with world-class software tools such as Matheletics, Mathseeds, and Reading Eggs.

Currently BrightLights operates a BrightLights Learning Lab at Shirinda Primary School in Mamelodi and at Itemoheng Primary School in Orange Farm, Gauteng, South Africa. In the next few years it intends to approach like minded organizations who want to invest responsibly in education especially in the areas of STEM. With the help of these CSR/CSI funds it hopes to expand to more schools in the future.

The Team

While our children always take center stage we thought you might like to know a bit more about the wonderful people who tireless give of their time or money or sometimes both, always accompanied by amazing enthusiasm:

DANIYAL MANEKIA
Founding Member


The story of BrightLights started with him! Currently a student at the United World College in Singapore, Daniyal has always nurtured a passion for education, more specifically education in Africa. Having lived in South Africa for 16 years, he found a way to marry his natural flair for technology and his desire to improve education in the establishment of BrightLights. A normal youth by any standard, Daniyal loves travelling, sampling every kind of cuisine and of course, zoning out on his Playstation.

SHAISTA MANEKIA
Founding Member, Operations and Finance


A banker by profession in her earlier years, Shaista shifted gears and has spent the last few years crafting a new career in the local real estate industry, delivering high-end residential projects in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. South Africa is the place Shaista has called home for 16 years already, and she believes that she can play a part in shaping and enabling the country’s future leaders.

KATE VAN WYK
Project Manager


A proudly South African woman, Kate prides herself in her ability to combine her passion and her skills – drawn from within the local property development sector and marketing industries – with BrightLights. A young mother herself, she believes that investing her time in the organization is an expression of her desire for her own child to live in a country where access to quality education is the ultimate equalizer.

SEEMIN QADIRI
Strategy


If ever the gloves of management and marketing fitted one pair of hands, it’s Seemin’s. With nearly 15 years of experience in the results-driven B2B global village, across the America, Europe and Asia, BrightLights could not have a more deft hand at building the organisation’s brand and fostering long-term mutually rewarding relationships.

TERENCE NAIDU
Advisor


Founder and full-time managing director of EnvisionIT Group of Companies, as well as founding Trustee of EnvisionIT Dare to Dream Bursary Foundation, Terence Naidu has been instrumental in lending his invaluable skills and experience in the local NPO sector to the team at BrightLights Learning. He has facilitated the organisation’s partnership with the Click Foundation, which assists with the training and development of BrightLights training facilitators and the periodic monitoring and evaluation of our young digital learners.

Board of Directors & Trustees

SHAISTA MANEKIA
Founding Member, Operations and Finance


A banker by profession in her earlier years, Shaista shifted gears and has spent the last few years crafting a new career in the local real estate industry, delivering high-end residential projects in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. South Africa is the place Shaista has called home for 16 years already, and she believes that she can play a part in shaping and enabling the country’s future leaders.

TERENCE NAIDU
Advisor


Founder and full-time managing director of EnvisionIT Group of Companies, as well as founding Trustee of EnvisionIT Dare to Dream Bursary Foundation, Terence Naidu has been instrumental in lending his invaluable skills and experience in the local NPO sector to the team at BrightLights Learning. He has facilitated the organisation’s partnership with the Click Foundation, which assists with the training and development of BrightLights training facilitators and the periodic monitoring and evaluation of our young digital learners.

ELIAS MASILELA


Elias is the Executive Chairman of DNA Economics and a part-time commissioner on the National Planning Commission. He holds a BA of Social Sciences degree with the University of Swaziland and a Master of Sciences in Economic Policy and Analysis from Addis Ababa University as well as several professional certificates with Harvard University.

He is the chairman of several influential entities in South Africa and is a member of the boards of Multichoice SA, Alternative Prosperity Holdings, Future Planet Capital in London, Avior Capital Markets, Strate and Absa Financial Services as well as a founder of many initiatives such as the Financial Sector Charter Council, Social security and retirement reform, UNGC Africa Implementation Agenda for the SDGs and the Ratepayers Association network in Swaziland, amongst others.

He has lectured at a number of academic institutions and has written widely on the subject of economic policy.

MFUNDO RADEBE


Mfundo Radebe is currently studying economics at Harvard University in the USA and he is an associate consultant intern at Bain & Company. He attended Crawford School in La Lucia, Durban, South Africa.

He is the founder and Executive Director of Dlulisa, a non-profit initiative providing textbooks and other fundamental resources to disadvantaged schools. He is the president of the Harvard African Student’s Association and a student board member of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.

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