Batoul: A Syrian Refugee Reaches Brighter Days After Unimaginable Hardship

Batoul: A Syrian Refugee Reaches Brighter Days After Unimaginable Hardship

Sitting at a desk surrounded by classmates, 11-year-old Batoul treasures her paper, pencils, and books — prized possessions at this Luminos classroom in Baalbek, situated in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.

One of 13 million Syrians violently displaced from their home, Batoul has yearned for a sense of normalcy and an education like other children her age.

Civil war, crisis, and displacement have severely disrupted the lives and education of the Syrian refugee children Luminos serves in Lebanon.

“She feels that the school is her second home. She trusts her teacher.”

Nawal, Batoul’s mother

Our programs support children — both academically and emotionally — so they can catch up to grade level in safe, welcoming classrooms and prepare to advance into Lebanese government schools. Classrooms are full of joy, resilience, kindness, and warmth and provide a safe space for students to explore and cultivate their potential.

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Batoul practices writing the singular and plural forms of words on the board in her classroom.

“I can calculate and compute numbers quickly now,” Batoul says, beaming with pride. “Math is my favorite subject.”

“She feels that the school is her second home. She trusts her teacher,” says Batoul’s mother, Nawal.

As the sole provider for six children, Nawal has made unimaginable choices and sacrifices to meet the family’s basic needs.

“I worry about my kids the most, mainly about educating them,” explains Nawal. “After we were forced to flee our home, we faced many obstacles.”

At that time, Batoul knew only a few letters and words, and numbers one through ten. But education was merely one of their concerns, as the family experienced homelessness.

“We were homeless during the winter season,” Nawal says. “People later on helped us by offering us the basic necessities such as food and blankets. We were offered shelter and a job.”

Luminos was among those who could help provide relief. As she passed by a classroom, Nawal noticed a gathering of parents and children. Nawal approached the group to learn more about why they were there and stayed to register her daughter to enroll in a Luminos classroom.

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

Batoul with her mother, Nawal.

Today, all Nawal’s children are in school, and Batoul’s teacher, Noha, is proud of the progress that she has made in the classroom.

“She became studious and diligent,” says Noha. “She has overcome all the obstacles.”

Such encouragement is fuel for Batoul’s future ambitions.

“The teacher always praises me and empowers me,” says Batoul. “I would like to continue to the university level and be a doctor.”

“I can calculate and compute numbers quickly now! Math is my favorite subject.”

Batoul, Luminos student in Lebanon

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Students in Batoul’s class practice placing nouns into categories.

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Lebanon program, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Chris Trinh

Adams: A Community Leader Embraces Teaching to Change Children’s Lives

Adams: A Community Leader Embraces Teaching to Change Children’s Lives

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.

Luminos signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana’s national Ministry of Education in the autumn of 2021 and officially launched our Ghana program serving 1,500 formerly out-of-school children in the Ashanti region where Mossipanin is located.

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.

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

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.

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.

Luminos teacher Adams leads his students in warm up song-and-dance.

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.”

Adams, Luminos teacher in Ghana

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Ghana program, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Mara Chan

Mignot: An Aspiring Doctor Learns to Read & Do Math

Mignot: An Aspiring Doctor Learns to Read & Do Math

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.

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

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.

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.

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.”

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

Photo credit for this story: Mekbib Tadesse

Luminos Publishes 2021 Annual Report

Luminos Publishes 2021 Annual Report

The Luminos Fund is proud to share our 2021 Annual Report.

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.

Highlights

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.

Stories

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.

Our 2021 Annual Report tells these stories and more.

While the world has a long way to go before recovering from the consequences of COVID-19, we hope you read the report and share our passion and urgency to help children catch up on education.

Thank you for being a part of the Luminos community.

Luminos Recognized as Finalist for Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes 2022

Luminos Recognized as Finalist for Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes 2022

This press release was originally published on the Jacobs Foundation website.


  • 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/

Media contacts:

Jacobs Foundation
Alexandra Guentzer, Chief Communications Officer
alexandra.guentzer@jacobsfoundation.org
Tel. + 41 (0) 79 821 74 29

The Luminos Fund
Michael Stulman, Director of Communications
michael@luminosfund.org
Tel: + 1 667 289 7534

71 Commercial Street, #232 | Boston, MA 02109 |  USA
+1 781 333 8317   info@luminosfund.org

The Luminos Fund is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charitable organization registered in the United States (EIN 36-4817073).

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