World Refugee Day: The Dedication of Teachers

World Refugee Day: The Dedication of Teachers

Teacher Abir in front of her classroom in Lebanon. (Photo credit: Chris Trinh)

In the Middle East, Lebanon hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, including 660,000 school-aged children. Having fled a long and brutal civil war in their homeland, Syrian refugees are seeking safety and stability for their families. However, life in Lebanon has been far from easy. The country has faced a series of crises, spanning from the economy to politics and beyond. These challenges have not only impacted the daily lives of the Syrian refugee children whom the Luminos Fund serves in Lebanon, but also their teachers.

Luminos teachers are the driving force in our classrooms, playing a vital role in helping Luminos reach over 7,000 Syrian refugee children and equip them with essential reading, writing, math, and socio-emotional skills. Every day, these teachers demonstrate unparalleled resilience and determination as they unlock the light of learning in their students.

In classrooms that are brimming with joy and excitement, teachers work passionately to ensure that children acquire the fundamental building blocks of learning. They provide students with the necessary tools to continue on the path to lifelong learning by instilling basic academic skills and the core foundations of positive psychosocial well-being.

Syrian refugee students in Lebanon complete a group assignment

Teachers like Taghreed intentionally create an atmosphere of care, knowing every student by name, checking up on their well-being, and fostering a safe, supportive environment where kids can be kids.

“They want to learn!” says Taghreed. “They are very dedicated.”

 Taghreed goes above and beyond, making herself available to her students at all times of day through WhatsApp, answering homework questions, explaining assignments, and more.

Luminos teachers recognize that they are not only preparing students to succeed in future learning, but also to make positive contributions to society—and that starts with the learning environment cultivated in the classroom.

As you walk into a Luminos classroom in Lebanon, colorful posters cover the walls, displaying the letters of the alphabet, the names of feelings, as well as heaps of student artwork. Seated in pairs at their desks, students actively participate in vibrant lessons on various topics, including their right to education. The children eagerly raise their hands to demonstrate their understanding, while teachers are equally enthusiastic about helping students internalize the lessons.

Inside a colorfully decordated Luminos classroom in Lebanon.

The teachers’ work would not be possible without the unwavering support of community-based partners who provide teachers with professional development opportunities on a regular basis.

When reflecting on Luminos teachers in Lebanon, Luminos Associate Director of Programs and Lebanon country lead, Liz Robinson, notes, “They’re just so dedicated. They genuinely want the best for their kids. There is a heartfelt sense that the teachers are so happy to be supporting the students’ learning. Teachers are most proud when their students are proud of themselves and value their own achievements, not just when students progress and grow academically.”

During a recent discussion with teachers and our community-based partners, there were numerous stories of the remarkable progress teachers have seen in their students throughout the program, including children gaining self-confidence, developing a newfound interest in learning and school, and even supporting their own parents to learn to read.

As one teacher said, this job “feeds our soul.”

One way teachers in Lebanon actively build students’ sense of self-belief is by providing daily opportunities for students to succeed in small ways every day. For example, one teacher uses WhatsApp to share and celebrate those who have done well on homework assignments. Students looks forward to receiving these messages so much, they often reach out to remind their teacher to send it.

A teacher in Lebanon leads a hopscotch-like math activity outside, allowing students to practice their counting skills and get active.

Every day, our teachers in Lebanon shine a light into the lives of the refugee students they serve. Today, on World Refugee Day, we honor their dedication and passion for improving the lives of refugee children.

Learn more about our Lebanon program here.

Fatou: Transforming Lives through Teaching in The Gambia

Fatou: Transforming Lives through Teaching in The Gambia

Doctors. Teachers. Engineers. Leaders in Government. Dreamers in The Gambia.

Sitting in front of Fatou are 29 children who are eager to learn, pursue their passions, and make a positive impact on the world.

“I want to be a teacher so that I can help other children read and write,” says Pendi, a 13-year-old Luminos student.

Only a few months ago, like his classmates, Pendi was among the 89,190 primary-aged children who are out of school in The Gambia.

As their teacher, Fatou has a critical role in reaching the most vulnerable children and ensuring they achieve the foundational skills needed to succeed in life.

“We are helping both the children and the community,” says Fatou. “There are certain children who have never been to school, and some of them have been to school but dropped out,” she explains. “Bringing all children back to school, back to class, and teaching them is important to me.”

Fatou inside her classroom. (Photo: Lena Nian for the Luminos Fund)

“We are helping both the children and the community. There are certain children who have never been to school, and some of them have been to school but dropped out. Bringing all children back to school, back to class, and teaching them is important to me.”

Fatou, Luminos teacher

In The Gambia, Luminos is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) to ensure all children have a second chance at education. Working together, we developed an accelerated learning curriculum and launched a pilot program. Over the next three years, we will scale to reach up to 26,500 children in The Gambia. However, finding qualified candidates for teaching positions in rural and marginalized communities can be challenging. UNESCO estimates that almost 69 million additional teachers need to be trained globally if there is any hope of achieving universal education by 2030. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the situation is particularly critical, with 70% of countries facing acute teacher shortages.

In The Gambia program, government partners recruit teachers. They identify young adults from existing government initiatives, creating a sustainable pipeline of teachers and setting the foundation for long-term government adoption of our model.

Students in Fatou’s class raise their hands to answer a question. (Photo: Lena Nian for the Luminos Fund)

Fatou participated in a multi-week training before classes began, and she receives ongoing coaching from Luminos and our community-based partners.

“Being a teacher, I’m learning something from it, helping myself. Teaching is also helping others to learn something, which is a big thing and very important,” says Fatou.

Luminos provides high-quality, interactive training so teachers can experience the kind of learning we want them to recreate for their students: fun, effective, caring, and safe.

“I have improved in a lot of things like how to manage the class,” she says.

Fatou leads a reading lesson in class. (Photo: Lena Nian for the Luminos Fund)

In the classroom, Fatou is responsible for conducting regular assessments of student learning and tracking their progress.

“I have seen a lot of changes. In the beginning, it was discouraging. I was asking the students about letters and words, and they could not say them. Now, if I ask them to say any letter, they can say it. It is the same thing with reading,” she says. “They are encouraging me to do more because now they can write and they can read,” says Fatou.

“My dream for my students is that they can become like me one day. Not necessarily a teacher, but if you are educated, you can achieve many things.”

Fatou, Luminos teacher

Teachers like Fatou are instrumental in unlocking the light of learning so children can reach their full potential and fulfill their aspirations. Together with MoBSE, we can transform education in The Gambia and take one step closer to our vision of a world where no child is denied an education.

“My dream for my students is that they can become like me one day. Not necessarily a teacher, but if you are educated, you can achieve many things.”

Watch the video below to learn more about our program in The Gambia and partnership with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education:

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

To learn more about our The Gambia program, click here.

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

Photo credit for this story: Lena Nian

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

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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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