New Summary Report: Examining Levels of Learning Loss, Trauma, and Resilience in Children, Parents, and Teachers in Tigray, Ethiopia

New Summary Report: Examining Levels of Learning Loss, Trauma, and Resilience in Children, Parents, and Teachers in Tigray, Ethiopia

The Luminos Fund commissioned an independent study to examine learning loss, trauma, and resilience among primary-school-aged children in Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia, in the wake of COVID-19 school closures and two years of civil war.

The study, led by Dr. Belay Hagos from the Institute for Education, Health, and Development (IEHD) in collaboration with a team of researchers from Mekelle University, surveyed 600 internally displaced children who were enrolled in Grades 2, 3, and 4 at the time of school closures in 2020. It also included 450 parents and 400 teachers. Due to ongoing security concerns in various parts of Tigray, participants were selected from temporary shelters located in and around Mekelle.

The following findings are deeply alarming, indicating that children have experienced significant learning loss, and there is evidence of substantial psychological trauma affecting children, parents, and teachers. Our latest report, “Examining Levels of Learning Loss, Trauma, and Resilience in Children, Parents, and Teachers in Tigray, Ethiopia,” summarizes the findings of this independent study.

“The findings of our study are a stark reminder of the devastating toll that war takes on children. It’s not just the physical destruction and loss of life – it’s the psychological trauma.”

Dr. Belay Hagos Hailu, Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Institute of Educational Research, Addis Ababa University

Key Findings

Infographic depicting six key findings from the the summary report on learning loss, trauma, and resilience in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Context

Over the past two years, the war between the Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) devastated the education of millions of children in Ethiopia. The conflict affected over 20 million people, closed over 7,000 schools, and shut almost 1.5 million children out of school. The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, referred to the war as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” It came directly on the heels of earlier school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Map of Ethiopia depicting the Tigray region in the north of the country.

After the Ethiopian government and TPLF announced a peace agreement, Luminos moved to re-establish our education program in Tigray, in partnership with communities and government. In early 2023, Luminos commissioned this study to inform a variation of our core program model that is customized to the unique needs of children in Tigray.

Key Recommendations

Based on the comprehensive findings of this study, several key recommendations emerge:

  • Provide comprehensive psychosocial support services for children, their families, and teachers to address the emotional and psychological needs resulting from the crisis.
  • Implement an accelerated learning model that targets missed or disrupted learning and embeds Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) approaches, offering tailored interventions to facilitate catch-up and bridge the learning gap.
  • Create and maintain conditions that encourage and support children’s continued attendance and engagement in learning, addressing potential barriers to ensure their sustained participation.
  • Prioritize collaboration between relevant stakeholders, including educators, parents, community-based organizations, and policymakers, to collectively address the challenges and develop effective strategies for educational recovery.

By implementing these recommendations, it is possible to address the critical needs identified in the study and work towards mitigating the impact of the pandemic and war on children’s education and well-being.

To read the full report summary, including further data on learning loss, trauma, and resilience, and a more detailed overview of the evaluation and methods used, click here. The full independent study is available upon request.

Luminos is mobilizing support and making urgent plans to relaunch our accelerated education program in Tigray in autumn 2023. To learn more, please email .

To learn more about our Ethiopia program, click here.

Luminos Liberia Students Make Substantial Literacy Gains in 2021-22

Luminos Liberia Students Make Substantial Literacy Gains in 2021-22

Read the full report summary ↑

In 2016, the Luminos Fund launched its accelerated, catch-up learning program in Liberia to help address the country’s urgent education needs – including one of the world’s highest recorded rates of out-of-school children. To date, Luminos has helped 12,650 Liberian children catch up on learning and reintegrate into local government schools. In addition, Luminos has trained 497 young adults on our pedagogy and model, and supported them to deliver the catch-up program in classrooms.

During the 2021-22 school year, the Luminos program increased children’s oral reading fluency (ORF) by 28 correct words per minute (CWPM), with girls progressing 3 CWPM more than boys. Students also made substantial gains in numeracy, with a 28 percentage point improvement in addition and a 20 percentage point improvement in subtraction. Our latest report, “Liberia 2021-22 Endline Evaluation Report,” summarizes results from the 2021-22 Luminos program endline evaluation conducted by Q&A Services. [1]

In 2021-22, the Luminos program ran for 9 months—from November to August— in line with the Ministry of Education’s 2021-22 official academic calendar; this calendar was shifted slightly compared to a standard, September – June calendar due to COVID-19. Luminos students attended class for 7 hours per day from Monday to Friday, with approximately 5 hours per day devoted to reading and 2 hours to numeracy.

Luminos supported 3,150 out-of-school students across 105 classes and five counties (Bomi, Bong, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, and Montserrado) in Liberia. Every year, Luminos works closely with a small group of community-based partners, each of which manages a cluster of classrooms, to deliver the program.

The results of the evaluation show that the Luminos Fund’s Liberia program positively impacted student reading and math outcomes across all EGRA and EGMA subtasks in the 2021-22 school year. 

Evaluation Overview

The evaluation aimed to demonstrate the impact of the Luminos Liberia program on student literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional outcomes during the 36-week 2021-22 program. Q&A Services assessed the literacy and numeracy levels of a random sample of students across all Luminos classes in the first two weeks of the program (baseline) and again in the final week of the program (endline). The RTI/USAID-developed Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) tools, adapted for Liberia, were used at both baseline and endline to assess students on a variety of early grade reading and math skills. A socio-emotional learning (SEL) assessment was also conducted with a subset of the student sample using the International Social Emotional Learning Assessment (ISELA) tool. For more details on the evaluation and methods used, please see the full report summary.

Overall Results

The results of the evaluation show that the Luminos program positively impacted student achievement in both reading and math.

Literacy

On reading, students showed improvement across every EGRA subtask, including an improvement of 50 percentage points on letter identification, 46 percentage points on oral reading fluency (ORF) of Grade 2 level text, 39 percentage points on familiar words, and 33 percentage points on reading comprehension. For ORF, students could read 29 CWPM at endline, compared to 1 CWPM at baseline, an improvement of 28 CWPM.

Numeracy

On numeracy, students again showed improvement across every single EGMA subtask, including an improvement of 35 percentage points on number identification, 33 percentage points on number discrimination, 28 percentage points on addition, 20 percentage points on subtraction, and 22 percentage points on word problems. While the program impacted student achievement on mathematics, improvement was less significant than for literacy. This makes sense given that 5 hours of the Luminos school day (approximately 70% of instructional time) is devoted to literacy and 2 hours each day (30% of instructional time) is devoted to numeracy.

Conclusion

The results of the evaluation show that the Luminos Fund’s Liberia program positively impacted student reading and math outcomes across all EGRA and EGMA subtasks in the 2021-22 school year. Results show that the average student improved by 28 CWPM within the 9-month program, with girls improving 3 CWPM more than boys. These results are incredibly impressive given the short (9-month) timeframe for the Luminos program. Results for the SEL assessment show improvement on self-concept, particularly for girls, suggesting possible impact of the Luminos program on broader student development; however, further research is required. When compared with similar programs in Liberia and globally, year on year the Luminos program is showing strong learning outcomes, particularly on literacy.

To read the full report summary, including additional background on our Liberia program and a more detailed overview of the evaluation and methods used, click here.

References:

  1. Simpson, A. “Luminos Fund Endline Evaluation 2021-22, Liberia,” Q&A Services, December 2022.

Luminos featured in Education Above All Report, “Beyond School Walls: Inspiration from Disruption”

Luminos featured in Education Above All Report, “Beyond School Walls: Inspiration from Disruption”

In August, the Luminos Fund was featured in a new report published by Education Above All in partnership with HundrED, highlighting innovations from a select group of education organizations that are effectively supporting marginalized learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based in Doha, Qatar, Education Above All (EAA) is a foundation launched in 2012 whose mission is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for vulnerable and marginalized people especially in the developing world, as an enabler of human development.

The report, “Beyond School Walls: Inspiration from Disruption,” recognizes that we must ensure learning continuity for all children during a crisis, especially those in underserved and marginalized communities. For many of these children, COVID-19 is just one incident in a series of events disrupting their education. At Luminos, as an organization that exists to support children affected by poverty, crisis, and discrimination, including the most marginalized learners, we could not agree more. The vast majority of marginalized learners we serve are in remote rural communities without access to online learning and were consequently left behind as the world pivoted to distance-learning solutions during COVID-19.

In response to the urgency for learning continuity, “Beyond School Walls” prioritizes the need for a variety of alternative learning systems using a range of infrastructures (from no tech to high tech) designed for unique and challenging contexts. The eleven case studies featured in the report, including Luminos’s Second Chance program, aim to support organizations and implementers globally in ensuring learning continuity for marginalized learners in places where schools remain closed for an extended period. The case studies are organized by several criteria (technological readiness, content availability, personalization, interactivity, cost, preparedness of teachers and parents, effort to replicate, etc.), with the hope of supporting others to adapt the ideas and practices featured to their own unique context.

“To support Luminos children and families during COVID-19 school closures, Luminos provided its communities with handwashing stations and supplies, food relief, and vital health information and guidance regarding COVID-19. Given that only 12% of the population in Liberia has access to electricity, Luminos employed a low-tech approach to ensure that all students/families would be reached. Luminos leveraged its network of facilitators, who live within the same communities as Luminos students, to conduct socially-distanced home visits to check in on student health, nutrition, wellbeing, and learning. Paper-based worksheets, aligned to the program curriculum, were created and distributed to students. Facilitators also held micro-classes with 4-5 children/batch to ensure that students remained engaged in learning through the school closures. Given that 1 in 4 children did not return to school following the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Luminos’ primary aim through the school closures has been to ensure that children remain safe and connected to learning so that every child returns to school once schools reopen.”

“Beyond School Walls” by Education Above All

Alongside EAA, Luminos looks forward to continuing to ensure that all learners, especially those in underserved and marginalized communities, continue learning despite school closures. We are honored to be featured alongside Amala Education, Dost Education, Ek Tara, iACT, M-Shule, Power99 Foundation, Pratham Education Foundation, Rising Academy Network, The First Assalam School, and the Zakoura Foundation. “Beyond School Walls: Inspiration from Disruption” is available online here.

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+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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