In a quiet community near the banks of the Farmington River in Liberia, 10-year-old Annie lives just minutes from her local government school. Sadly, when her mother could no longer afford the modest fees, Annie dropped out of school, fell behind on her education, and needed help catching up.

When the free Luminos program launched in her community, Annie suddenly had the opportunity to learn to read, write, and do math in just one school year.

“I was excited to come back to school. I was happy because I got a second chance to learn,” says Annie.

“I was excited to come back to school. I was happy because I got a second chance to learn”

Annie, Luminos student in Liberia

The same year that Annie attended the Luminos program, IDinsight, a global research and advisory organization, conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the Luminos program in Liberia, which proved that Luminos students learn a remarkable amount. The results show that Liberian children enrolled in the one-year Luminos program learn 90% of what the average Liberian will learn in their lifetime.

Annie with her mother, Mary, outside their home. (Photo: Mara Chan/Luminos Fund) 

Annie admits it was challenging at the beginning.

“The math was hard for me.” She pauses, then smiles. “But I learned the times table.”

“I didn’t know how to read before, but now I can read,” Annie adds with confidence. By the end of the program, Annie’s Luminos teacher described her as a “super reader.”

The Luminos program goes beyond teaching children to read, write, and do math. The classroom instills confidence in children, most of whom have never experienced how it feels to be successful at school.

Annie now takes initiative, is eager to read in front of her peers, and participates in classroom activities.

“I feel happy to go to the school,” she says.

Annie’s Remarkable Reading Progress (words per minute):

By the end of the Luminos program, Annie was reading over 100 words per minute and successfully transitioned into grade 4 in her local government school.

Annie’s aspirations are as bright as her smile when she speaks of her future: “I want to continue my education. I want to go to college. I want to be a nurse when I get older.”

New RCT Shows Huge Learning Gains in Luminos Liberia Program

In 1 year, a Luminos student learns


of what the average Liberian will learn in their entire life*

*Based on Learning Adjusted Years of Schooling

Results of a new IDinsight RCT of the Luminos program in Liberia prove that, with the right support, children can learn a remarkable amount in a short period of time.

At the end of the 2022-23 school year, Luminos students read four times as many words per minute and completed two times as many addition and subtraction problems as children in control communities.

Effects were similar in size for girls and boys, younger and older children, children who were previously enrolled in school and dropouts, and children who started with lower baseline learning levels compared to higher baseline learning levels.

Compared with government school children in the same communities, children in the Luminos program started the school year with much lower literacy and numeracy scores, but ended the school year with similar numeracy scores and substantially higher literacy scores than their peers in school.

No other externally evaluated program in Liberia has come close to the learning gains that IDinsight documented through the RCT of the Luminos program. Learn more in this summary of the RCT.

“The Luminos Fund is demonstrating that there is a way to reach the most marginalized children and to run an accelerated program that, within 10 months, can give them the building blocks that will prepare them to transition to and succeed in the mainstream education system.”

Jeffery McManus, Senior Economist at IDinsight

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2023 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Liberia program, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Mara Chan and Derrick Michael

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

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