Konjit: Journeying through Conflict to Education in Ethiopia

Konjit: Journeying through Conflict to Education in Ethiopia

Konjit lives with her family in Konso, a small farming town in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia.

She loves writing and excels in reading. When Konjit grows up, she wants to be a doctor so that she can help people. But five years ago, Konjit’s life was upended when her family was forced to flee their home.

“Everything was stolen and burned,” says Konjit. “We started from nothing here.”

Since late 2020, inter-communal conflict in the region has displaced more than 228,000 people, and thousands of children are out of school.

Konjit had never been to school, but along with her guardian, Abebe, the stabilizing force in her young life has become a Luminos classroom.

“Education is important for changing my future. If I’m educated now, I will get a job and help my family.”

Konjit, Luminos student in Ethiopia

Konjit (right) plays a clapping game outside the classroom with her friend. (Photo: Michael Stulman for the Luminos Fund)

“Everybody welcomed me,” she says warmly. In just one school year, Konjit is learning to read, write, and do math in a joyful and safe learning environment.

“At first, Konjit was shy, but now she has confidence in herself,” says Konjit’s teacher, Tiblet.

Last year, Luminos expanded to Konso to serve children displaced by violence, like Konjit, who face numerous barriers to education. In recent years, drought has brought an additional challenge by exacerbating food insecurity in the region. As part of our Konso effort, Luminos provides a free lunch for students.

“This might be the only meal they have today,” explains Tiblet. In addition to Konjit, Abebe has two other children in the Luminos program: Andinet, age 10, and Ashalo, age 8. He recognizes their family is unfortunately still an outlier.

Konjit (left) and her classmates enjoy the free lunch Luminos provides to students in Konso. (Photo: Michael Stulman for the Luminos Fund)

“Education is key to all growth… This is an important program, and I hope the government can expand it. If all schools had this approach, a generation with concrete knowledge can be created.”

Abebe, guardian of Luminos student Konjit

“The conflict has a big impact on education. Many children have no second chance at education because of conflict,” says Abebe. “There’s only a small portion of displaced children who are in school.”

Providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for children like Konjit is critical to ensuring that they are not left behind. The Luminos program not only offers education and nourishment but also instills a sense of hope and possibility for a better future.

“Education is important for changing my future. If I’m educated now, I will get a job and help my family,” says Konjit.

“Education is key to all growth,” Abebe agrees. He is committed to supporting Konjit’s learning journey.

“When Konjit comes home, I help her with her assignments. I want her to have a good education to get a job and I’m willing to help her all the way,” he says. “This is an important program, and I hope the government can expand it. If all schools had this approach, a generation with concrete knowledge can be created.”

Luminos is working with the Ethiopian government to do just that. Since 2017, the Ministry of Education has been rolling out the Luminos model nationally to reach out-of-school children, through a program known as the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), reaching over 65,000 children.

Konjit (right) studies in class. (Photo: Michael Stulman for the Luminos Fund)

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2022 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Ethiopia program, click here.

The Luminos Fund's 2022 Annual Report spread on a wooden table.

Photo credit for this story: Michael Stulman

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

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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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