Only 0.1 percent of the world's children have access to elite education. Everyone else has to make do with crumbs.
As of today, 260 million children in the world are out of school. One in five is a refugee. It gets worse: even among children who do go to school, one in three cannot read or write. This is because access to school alone is not enough. It is the quality of education that makes the difference.
Unfortunately, only 0.1 percent of school-aged children in the world have access to the so-called “elite schools”, the institutions where tomorrow's leaders are raised. Everyone else has to make do with crumbs. We are changing things up.
How? By democratizing the school of the elite so that it becomes the School of All. We educate to change the world, one child at a time.
We create our projects from the real needs of the communities we serve. That is why we have formulated two different approaches to education:
EMERGENCY AND REHABILITATION SCHOOLS
We open Emergency and Rehabilitation Schools to provide relief in the most complex segments of global humanitarian crises. We offer a versatile curriculum, meeting basic needs such as nutrition, hygiene and child protection. We offer psychosocial support to regenerate child well-being. We rehabilitate our students from living in the streets, child labor, slavery, mines and refugee camps, restoring their right to freedom. We fight to protect childhood, before it is too late.
We open International Schools in the most stable settings to turn emergency into rebuilding. We offer the highest level of education, the most recognized curriculum in the world, and a holistic, state-of-the-art school model to ensure long-term solutions. We create opportunities for development, social cohesion and inclusion not only for our students but for entire communities. We educate to shape the leaders of tomorrow. We champion potential and rebuild the future.
The Still I Rise Model is developed by a team of international experts. With the knowledge of the most advanced pedagogical techniques combined with our strong field experience, we are able to bring to life and refine a unique Educational Model every day.
Thanks to our local experts. we adapt our Model to any context in the world. In Still I Rise’s Schools every child is understood, valued and supported to become the best version of themselves. This is changing the world.
This is the future of Education.
Find out more about our Method in the following section and if you want more details, download the full document here.
At Still I Rise we claim the right to beauty as fundamental to learning. When we opened our first school in 2018, we immediately understood that creating an aesthetically pleasing environment that invites students to spend time in it is key to making a school an enjoyable place where students want to stay, not a place of obligation which they can’t wait to escape. This is why all areas in our schools are planned and designed meticulously, from lighting to furniture, from color choices to layout so that the school space is as conducive as possible to learning and growth.
THE COMMON HALL
The Common Hall is the beating heart of our schools. It is where students and staff gather in their free time to explore topics covered in class or discuss something else, building a lifelong relationship of mutual trust. The Common Hall is a horizontal space where students, teachers and members of management interact as equals, in the comfort of a room featuring materials such as wood and glass to promote welcome and transparency, and furnished with rugs, sofas and armchairs to facilitate sociability. People enter the Common Hall without shoes, and this is where what we call "soft learning," or learning by inertia, takes place.
Our schools are designed to be more than just schools: our Schools are Homes, and students care for them. At Still I Rise, students are involved in the cleanliness and orderliness of the spaces; they are in charge of fixing what they break, cleaning up what they litter and making sure the school facility is always ready for the best collective use. Our students own the School and all of its components, and are therefore responsible for it. This way we enable children who come from vulnerable backgrounds to feel seen, cared for and valued. They gradually transform from a state of survival to a state of growth and learning.
Studies show that studying outdoors enhances learning by up to 27%.
Still I Rise Schools use and enhance open spaces, not only in the case of subjects such as Physical Education, Environmental Education and Science, but across all subjects. We encourage our teachers to come up with new ways to turn the concepts they introduce into practice, encouraging hands-on exercises and activities that are as interactive as possible in the field. It is not unusual at a Still I Rise School to discover students in the garden, searching for mathematical patterns in nature, or scattered around the neighborhood interviewing street vendors, or even dressed up and in full makeup, on the street corner, engaged in a play.
SCHOOL FOR LIFE
A Still I Rise school is a place set up to allow students to become the best version of themselves. It is not a place where students enter for the sake of simply learning, with specific and set goals, only to run away at the sound of the bell. Still I Rise Schools are welcoming communities where all areas of life are explored and developed: from education in the classroom to sports on the field, from personal development in the spaces allocated to research to social skills in the common areas. At Still I Rise we don’t learn strictly for education, but for Life.
Key Value: Family
Technology and infrastructure can facilitate learning, but they do not make a difference. The final result depends on the teacher.
At Still I Rise, we choose and train professionals who can go far beyond the classroom to become mentors and people our students look up to. Authoritative but never authoritarian in the classroom and informal and helpful outside, Still I Rise teachers are role models, able to offer holistic support in each student's life so that each child can feel seen, heard, accepted and welcomed, just like in a family. In the Still I Rise Family, teachers are a beacon of light in the darkness.
Our field teams are made up primarily of local staff. This is a key feature both to allow students to see themselves in their mentors, and because only a local team that knows the context, its issues and needs will be able to offer effective solutions. Ours is a conscious decision: we invest in local leaders in contexts that are often extremely complex. Where others would choose to send staff from abroad, we instead cultivate talent locally. We work hard to bring a positive impact to the communities in which we work.
Our recruitment process subverts the sector’s norms. Instead of simply looking at the technical skills, academic training and formal qualifications of teacher candidates, we focus on passion. We look for leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity and a revolutionary heart. We look for soft skills. We look for professionals who burn with enthusiasm and a desire to challenge the status quo. We look for the X-Factor. At Still I Rise, we look for the dreamers. We look for professionals who, instead of waking up in the morning thinking, "Today I'm going to school to teach," think, "Today I'm going to school to change the world."
The most fundamental value of a Still I Rise teacher is their humanity. To be able to teach effectively, mentors must first create an emotional bond with students. This forms the foundation of a relationship of mutual trust and understanding, which is preparatory to truly effective learning free of anxiety and fear. In our schools, a typical lesson, regardless of the subject taught, begins with a question, "How are you today?" These are not pleasantries. It is genuine interest, to which students are accustomed to responding by expressing their emotions, aware that they are in a safe space free from judgment and retaliation. Emotions at school are a too-often ignored but unavoidable issue: we learn only when we feel safe.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING MISTAKES
At Still I Rise Schools, mistakes are not only allowed, but encouraged. In evaluating our students, we don’t average the grades they received in different subjects. We take into account the child in their complexity, without reducing them to a number. We reward not so much perfection or excellence but the ability to grow and improve despite difficulties. For us, failure is not the end of the line: it is the starting point. Because a society terrified of failure is an immobile society, completely petrified. At Still I Rise, however, we cultivate a bolder future. A truly inclusive future.
Key Value: Democracy
In traditional schooling, the relationship between teacher and student is a life-and-death one. The teacher, understood as "full" of notions, is the protagonist and director of the educational process. The student, on the other hand, is "empty," a container to be filled with knowledge and information. In this relationship the teacher is "alive" and the student is "dead." The ultimate goal from the exchange is for the student to become "full" or "alive" in turn, and for the teacher, having passed on all of their knowledge, to become empty, thus becoming obsolete-"dead." The Still I Rise Model seeks to reverse this paradigm.
THE TEACHER AS A FACILITATOR
At Still I Rise Schools, the teacher is not the protagonist of the lesson, the conductor of learning, but merely a lateral facilitator. The protagonist is and always will be the student. For us, education is an equitable process of unique and complementary experiences, information, and sensibilities that students and teachers exchange to elevate learning beyond academic goals. That is why a Still I Rise teacher does not enter the classroom with information to impart but with a simple question, then leaving the pleasure and responsibility of discovery and learning to the students.
Still I Rise Schools promote a constructivist approach and the technique of Inquiry Based Learning. Each day, teachers enter the classroom with a clear goal in mind and a strategic question for their students. This brings the journey of discovery to life. It will then be up to the students to use the support of resources and technology in the classroom to bring together the shared knowledge of their classmates with the guidance of the teacher themselves as they build a path of autonomous learning. Each student finds an answer to the given question, arriving at the goal of the lesson, through a personalized approach capable of adapting to the needs of a variety of intelligence types. Once the goal is reached, students share the knowledge they have gained, enriching each other.
At Still I Rise, we believe that education should destabilize, not confirm, the status quo. The design of our teaching spaces reflect this philosophy. Rather than promoting lectures with teachers sitting at the desk, we design flexible classrooms where every wall and every corner offers a new dimension of learning. Our classrooms offer a variety of alternative seating solutions, from modular desks to round tables, from yoga balls to "stand-up" desks and from rugs to cushions to accommodate a wide spectrum of intelligences and neurodiversity.
TEACHING TO LEARN
Being able to follow a constructivist lesson and using the Inquiry Based Learning technique are not innate, natural skills, but they can be learned and taught. That is why we devote the first year at a Still I Rise school not so much to learning specific notions and topics, but to assimilating 13 core values: Ambition, Bravery, Care, Transparency, Curiosity, Knowledge, Communication, Critical Thinking, Sound Principles, Open-mindedness, Risk-taking, Balance and Reflection. All of these values enable students, through a structured pathway, to learn how to progress independently and democratically. Self-determination is one of the cornerstone goals of Still I Rise schools.
Key Value: Freedom
Global thinking is about understanding the invisible threads which bind humans and our communities together. It’s about identifying the fundamental differences between people and groups. Knowing how to independently discern the complexities of the world and its dynamics is vital if one is to navigate modern society. At Still I Rise, we do not aim for uniformity, homogenization or the construction of common thinking. Our goal is to empower our students so that they can emancipate themselves from the chains of poverty, exploitation and oppression. We are not saving anyone. But by freeing the mind, we enable anyone to save themselves.
At Still I Rise, we do not teach content, events, dates, numbers or specific information. We teach concepts. We teach ideas.
In an increasingly multicultural and inclusive world, how is it possible to teach children who come from different countries and cultures one literature, one history, one geography, one philosophy, and one way of seeing the world and life? Simple: it is impossible. This is why traditional education can no longer meet the needs of the modern world. Still I Rise Schools breaks free from these limitations. Instead of teaching content, we teach concepts and skills that tend to be universal. Why teach Charlemagne when you can explore the concept of empire and give the student the freedom to supplement it with the example of an emperor of their choice, in spite of historical and geographical boundaries, instead meeting the cultural and particular needs of the student as an individual?
In Still I Rise Schools, we put into practice the 5Es model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate) by promoting a practical, hands-on approach to learning, based on personalized inquiry both when we plan the lesson and when we deliver it. Each student's intelligence is engaged by a method based on not only intellectual but also physical involvement, taking the student through the exploration and explanation of the subject matter and encouraging critical reworking aimed at a holistic evaluation of the concept acquired and the ability to apply it to the real world.
While the majority of International Schools around the world present models heavily centered on Europe and North America, we develop increasingly localized programs. We believe that a truly global Educational Model cannot ignore its surrounding context but, rather, must reach universal concepts starting precisely from a thorough and organic knowledge of the surrounding environment. That is why we incorporate and enhance historical, cultural and artistic pathways that promote awareness of local realities. We firmly believe that in order to train the leaders of the future, it is necessary to first attend to their roots in the present.
CHANGING THE WORLD
The ultimate goal of our Educational Method is to train the leaders of tomorrow. By offering forgotten children the education of the elite, we are creating a future ruling class that can prove to be more humane, more honest and more effective than the current one. By democratizing the opportunities so far reserved for only 0.1 percent of the world, Still I Rise wants to raise a group of agents of change who can build a fairer, more beautiful and freer society for all. That, for us, is what changing the world really means.
THE IB FRAMEWORK
We are the first school in the world to offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) framework, for free, to refugee and vulnerable children living in a slum. IB is the world's most recognized and highly regarded course of study, so far reserved for only 0.1 percent of the world's children. Still I Rise is actively changing this imbalance.
We select our students carefully, seeking to represent within our schools all the communities that live within the context of our operations. We never discriminate against any student because of their nationality, gender, religion or sexual orientation. We welcome both refugee students and vulnerable local children through a fair, transparent and proportional system.