The classroom where Adams teaches in Mossipanin, a rural community in southern Ghana, is surrounded by small farms and rough roads.
Hours from Ghana’s second-largest city, Kumasi, most of Mossipanin’s residents are farmers. Each day, they walk to their plots of land to grow yams, corn, and beans to feed their families and sell at the market.
Adams came to Mossipanin years ago from a nearby town to complete his national service for the government. Adams was happy and, when his service finished, decided he would stay.
“I started helping the community as their secretary,” Adams says. As secretary, Adams keeps the community up to date on what is happening, takes notes for villagers who do not know how to read, and generally serves as a link between Mossipanin and the rest of the world. When Luminos began recruiting young adults to train as teachers for our new Ghana program, Mossipanin’s village chief immediately put Adams’ name forward.
The rural community of Mossipanin in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
The view from the village chief’s home in Mossipanin.
Students and teachers alike enjoy playing soccer during breaks from class.
The community of Mossipanin in southern Ghana.
A yam farm tended by Mossipanin community members. Each mound contains a single yam.
With the second highest number of primary-school-aged out-of-school children in Ghana and little support historically, Ashanti has a deep need for a catch-up education program to help children build foundational reading, writing, and math skills. Data shows that the majority of children entered Luminos’ program unable to read a single word.
In Adams’ classroom today, students eagerly join in learning songs and dances, reading and writing, and solving basic math equations.
Adams has just as much fun as his students while leading short energizing activities like this one where students sing and dance.
“I love mathematics,” says Adams, noting that he always strives to involve his students in learning activities and the teaching process itself to help them internalize lessons. His enthusiasm is infectious: students from Adams’ class usually name math as their favorite subject!
“My favorite thing to learn is math,” says eight-year-old Bele, one of Adams’ students. “I feel happy when I study it. I especially like doing subtraction!”
Bele loves when Adams leads the class in an activity called Number Line where Adams draws a line on the floor in chalk, labeling it with numbers such as 1-10. Students practice addition and subtraction by taking steps forward and backward on the line.
Adams cares deeply about his students—Bele shares that Adams once made the long journey into town to buy sandals for him when he had none.
Bele, one of Adams’ students, loves math.
“Teaching is my passion! I like teaching because I want to make a better future.”
Adams, Luminos teacher in Ghana
Adams has big dreams for his students and himself. He says, “I want my students to become a better person than I. Education is the key to success in everything. I would be proud seeing my kids having a better future; a better life through education.”
Adams’ love for learning extends beyond his classroom: he is pursuing a degree in Business Management in Education in Kumasi and one day hopes to get his master’s degree.
Today, Adams proudly declares, “Teaching is my passion! I like teaching because I want to make a better future.”
With teachers like Adams, the future for Ghana’s children is bright.
Adams (bottom left) leads his students in a song-and-dance activity to get them energized and ready to focus on the next lesson.
“I want my students to become a better person than I. Education is the key to success in everything. I would be proud seeing my kids having a better future; a better life through education.”
Over 200 miles south from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, a Luminos classroom is buzzing with learning.
Out-of-school children who either never enrolled in school before or dropped out are taking their second chance at education and running with it.
Mignot, a ten-year-old girl, is eager to share what she loves most about the classroom.
“My favorite activity is singing songs because I learn about so many things when I sing the songs. And I never forget the songs, so I never forget what I have learned,” she says.
Luminos classrooms are joyful, safe environments where learning is interactive and engaging.
Our free, one-year catch-up program has been a transformative experience for Mignot, who dropped out of a government school a few years ago.
“She couldn’t read or write, but now she loves to read when she gets home,” beams Mignot’s mother, Alemitu.
Letters of the alphabet decorate the inside of Mignot’s classroom.
“Mignot is one of my students that really excelled. She is now one of the top students in this classroom. I am very proud of her.”
Derese, Luminos teacher in Ethiopia
“Mignot is one of my students that really excelled. She is now one of the top students in this classroom. I am very proud of her,” says her teacher, Derese. “The best thing about being a teacher is seeing my students improve. It is quite amazing how they transform within such a short period of time.”
He adds, “Educating girls is important for our country because they make up half of the population and can have a huge impact on the community.”
The Luminos program is transformative for vulnerable children like Mignot. Children learn to read, write, and do math, and over 90% of Luminos students continue their education after our program: advancing into government schools with their peers.
Setting up impactful classrooms like this is ambitious and necessary, especially in today’s global learning crisis — and occasionally met with skepticism.
“At first, I thought it was impossible. I just couldn’t accept it. I had so many questions about the program,” admits Mesfin Yacob, the government’s district-level Team Leader who provides support to all the classrooms in Mignot’s community. But after seeing Luminos students and teachers interact with enthusiasm and determination, and the dramatic learning gains that Luminos students make, Mesfin changed his mind.
“After I saw the results, I believed in the program,” he explains.
Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.
“I have been able to see closely how the lessons are given and how the teachers are committed. The follow up by teachers is quite amazing. They do much better than the regular teachers. Even highly paid teachers do not show this level of commitment and output. The classrooms are lively and have a lot of learning resources,” says Mesfin.
He adds, “I am now a champion of the program.”
Mignot has every intention of continuing her education until she can reach her dreams.
“I would like to become a doctor,” she says, “so that I can be able to help people and save their lives.”
Mignot with her mother, Alemitu. When Alemitu describes Mignot’s progress through Luminos’ program, she says, “She [Mignot] couldn’t read or write, but now she loves to read when she gets home.”
While COVID-19 has inflicted extraordinary damage on education for the most vulnerable children, Luminos is tackling this challenge head-on, bringing laser focus and commitment to ensure every child has a chance to catch up and thrive.
Luminos achieved several significant milestones, including:
out-of-school children served across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
out-of-school children reached during the 2021-22 school year.
out-of-school children served through the launch of a new country program in Ghana.
Establishing a new project in The Gambia, providing curriculum development and advisory services to the government.
Expanding our team of ‘Lumineers’ by more than 58% to support the growth of our education programs – a majority of whom are based in Africa.
The 2021 Annual Report also contains stories of lives transformed through the power of education, including children like Batoul, a Luminos student and Syrian refugee in Lebanon, who is exploring and cultivating her potential in a safe, welcoming classroom.
We highlight an enthusiastic and passionate teacher in Ghana, Adams, who is beloved by all his students.
Siah, a Luminos alumna in Liberia, reflects on the ways our classroom helped prepare her for success getting to 6th grade.
The Luminos Fund, headquartered in the United States, recognized for catch-up education programs for out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa
Three Best Practice Prize recipients will be awarded CHF 200,000 each and announced on 30 September at a ceremony taking place in Zurich
All 10 finalists will convene for a co-creation event on 1 October, and are also eligible for follow-on funding of up to CHF 150,000
Zurich, June 29, 2022: The Luminos Fund has been named a top 10 finalist for the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes 2022, a set of three awards each worth CHF 200,000 ($208,000) that honor outstanding achievement and practice in advancing quality education.
Headquartered in the United States, Luminos Fund runs education programs for out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
The three recipients of this year’s Best Practice Prizes will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on 30 September 2022. For the first time, the 10 finalists will convene for a co-creation event, taking place on 1 October 2022. They will exchange knowledge and ideas on advancing learning, and will have the opportunity to partner with other shortlisted applicants to develop proposals for new projects. Two concepts will receive follow-on funding of up to CHF 150,000 ($156,000) each.
Awarded every other year, the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes recognize non-profits, businesses, and social ventures that are bringing forth innovative solutions to some of education’s biggest challenges.
Fabio Segura and Simon Sommer, co-CEOs of the Jacobs Foundation, said:
“We want to warmly congratulate the Luminos Fund on becoming a top 10 finalist for the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes 2022. These prizes were created to showcase the ground-breaking work that businesses, social ventures, and non-profits all around the world are doing to ensure children have access to quality education. There is not a moment to lose. By bringing to light the evidence of what works we can use it to implement solutions that can be tailored to learners’ diverse individual needs.
“In the age of COVID, it is also important to share ideas and evidence of what works on the ground to help shift policy, particularly as education systems adapt to a new and unfamiliar terrain. That is why we are launching this new follow-on collaboration funding of up to CHF 150,000. We look forward to bringing together all 10 Best Practice Prize finalists for our co-creation event, and we can’t wait to see what inspiring concepts they come up with together.”
Caitlin Baron, CEO of the Luminos Fund, said:
“We are honored to be among the top 10 finalists for the Best Practice Prizes awarded by the Jacobs Foundation. Like Jacobs Foundation, Luminos believes all children should be able to reach their potential–regardless of their background or income. The Foundation’s dedication to helping children reach their full potential and fulfill their aspirations has been inspirational and catalytic in the sector, and we look forward to learning from other finalists.
“We hope to use this unique platform to share our learnings, and help even more out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world experience fun, joyful learning.”
The Luminos Fund
The Luminos Fund provides education programs for out-of-school children aged 8-14 in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, helping them to catch up on three years of learning in just one school year, and reintegrate into local government schools. Many live in very challenging circumstances, and are the first in their family to receive an education. Each year, over 90% of Luminos students advance to mainstream schools, and at least 75% remain in formal education after 12 months.
With a focus on learning-through-play and assessment-led pedagogy, Luminos strives to make learning a joyful experience, to equip students with a positive outlook on education. The program is delivered through community-based organisation partners whose capabilities Luminos helps build, support, and oversee. Classrooms are taught by high-potential local young adults who Luminos trains to teach, thereby fuelling local education systems with much-needed trained resources.
To date, Luminos has supported more than 152,000 children across Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, The Gambia, and Lebanon, and plans to reach an additional 200,000 students by 2024. They work with governments, advising on curriculum development, strategies, and national education policy. This enables Luminos to drive forward lasting, systemic change and to ensure that out-of-school children remain a priority for national education planning.
If the Luminos Fund is named a recipient of one of the 2022 Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes, they plan to invest the winning funds in supporting new programs in Ghana and expanding their operations in The Gambia. They will also launch a multimedia toolkit to reach even more out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes
Applications for the Best Practice Prizes 2022 opened on 6 January and closed on 10 February 2022. Recipients must demonstrate outstanding achievement in advancing learning and education, and embrace variability in learning. Their projects should draw on scientific evidence, use a clear results framework, and must be sustainable, scalable, and financially viable. Finally, they must build on strong leadership and partner networks.
In memory of its founder, the entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs, who passed away in 2008, the Jacobs Foundation presents two awards every other year for exceptional achievements in research and practice in the field of child and youth development and learning. The Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize rewards scientific work that is highly relevant to society, and the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes honor exceptional commitment and innovative solutions of institutions or individuals.
Notes to editors:
The Jacobs Foundation is active worldwide in promoting child and youth development and learning. The Foundation was founded in Zurich by entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs in 1989. As part of its Strategy 2030, it has committed 500 million Swiss francs to advance evidence-based ideas for learning, to support schools in offering quality education, and to transform education ecosystems around the world. https://jacobsfoundation.org/en/
Each year on May 25, Africans and others around the globe celebrate Africa Day. The day commemorates the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), known today as the African Union, which was Africa’s first post-independence continental institution. For Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, Africa Day signifies unity, pride in being African, and an opportunity to celebrate the continent’s progress while reflecting on the common challenges yet to overcome.
In honor of Africa Day, we are sharing the story of a true African visionary and luminary in the education sector: Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka. Dzingai served as the first Minister of Education and Culture for Zimbabwe upon its Independence from Britain from 1980 to 1988, and as Minister of Higher Education from 1988 to 1989. He currently serves on the Governing Board of several institutions and is also a member of the Luminos Fund’s Advisory Board.
When the charter that created the OAU was signed in May 1963, several African states had not yet won their independence. This was the case in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), the home of Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka. Dzingai, who grew up against the backdrop of colonialism and racial segregation, describes his childhood as very challenging. He was raised by his maternal grandmother in a very poor household and credits his success to the core values she instilled in him: values that remain with him today.
“She would say to me: it doesn’t matter how poor you are or what your stage in life is. If you are hardworking and determined, you can achieve anything,” Dzingai says.
Although he was just a teenager at the time, Dzingai recalls the great significance 25 May 1963 held for Africans everywhere and for ushering in a tide of change across the continent and beyond. The formation of the OAU called for unity among African countries that transcends ethnic and national differences. Additionally, the OAU promoted cooperation in pursuit of a shared goal to rid the continent of colonialism and apartheid and create a world where Africans control their own destiny.
“The idea of uniting was to make sure that never again would Africa be colonized. The idea was that slavery came because Africans were divided. Colonialism came because Africans were divided. If we were to maintain our newfound freedom, it was important that Africans fight as one.”
– Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka
Since ending colonialism and apartheid in Africa, there has been significant progress with governance, economic growth and inclusiveness, infrastructure development, health, and education across the continent. For instance, Africa has made steady progress in increasing life expectancy at birth over the last 60 years and improved infant mortality by around 30% over the past 20 years (AFDB). Furthermore, the continent has made considerable progress in boosting primary and lower secondary school enrollment (World Bank).
There is much to celebrate, but also still much to overcome. As power and wealth still largely remain concentrated in the hands of a few, deep structural and systemic inequalities continue to beset African societies.
“I think the link between decolonization and economic wellbeing was a stretch, and it remains a stretch today in Africa,” says Dzingai. “This is an important frontier for us, and it immediately leads to the question of education. Because, as Mandela once said, education is the most important tool with which you can change society.”
Dzingai’s journey is a testament to this. Unlike so many other boys and girls across the continent, he was given an opportunity: thanks to an anonymous donor, Dzingai was able to complete his secondary education when his family could no longer afford to send him to school. In spite of the inevitable roadblocks presented by a segregated education system, Dzingai excelled in school, earning scholarships and awards that enabled him to go on to pursue higher education. These experiences would later inspire his work as Zimbabwe’s first Minister of Education.
“When I became Minister of Education at independence, I wanted Zimbabwe to be different. I wanted the quality of education in Zimbabwe to be different. I did not want the average child growing up in Zimbabwe to go through what I went through. I wanted every child to have access to the best education that was possible.”
– Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka
When inheriting a system built on structural inequality, transformative action is required to achieve greater equity for all.
“The system needed radical reform and radical change in order to prepare young people for a healthy and productive future to end the crisis that Africa faces today,” says Dzingai.
Regrettably, the continent has struggled to ensure quality and universal education for all. Without urgent action, the situation will likely worsen as the region faces a rising demand for education due to a still-growing school-age population (UNESCO).
But there is hope—Africa has overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and continues to demonstrate resounding resilience and strength. There is incredible power in unity and committing to invest in the region’s collective future, and with the right African leadership, Africa’s future is bright.
When we come together on May 25 to celebrate solidarity and Africa’s collective progress, let us also remember this as an opportunity to unite to solve the common challenges that the continent still faces in a global environment. For Dzingai, Africa’s most transformational progress is yet to come. The potential for transformation hinges on its youth and future leaders, and importantly, the willingness of current leaders to prioritize investments in their people, especially young people and their education.
“If these young people are given space to really implement some of their wild ideas,” Dzingai says, “it will not take time before we see changes in Africa that we never thought were possible.”
To hear more from Dzingai, visit his page from Luminos’ “Education Leadership through Crisis” series.
Kirstin Buchanan serves as the Development & Communications Associate at the Luminos Fund where she amplifies student voices and program stories, in addition to helping drive content, messaging, and fundraising strategy. She holds a MA in International Affairs and BA in International Relations from Boston University, as well as a certificate in Latin American studies.