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.

Celebrating Teachers on World Teachers’ Day

Celebrating Teachers on World Teachers’ Day

“He helps us understand what we cannot understand. He responds to our questions always.” These are the words of eleven-year-old Second Chance student, Sofonias, describing what he likes best about his teacher, Elias (pictured above). It is also a perceptive description of the importance and power of a teacher: bringing understanding and answers to thirsty learners. Elias, like so many teachers around the globe, has quietly transformed his students’ lives forever.

Take Sofonias as an example. After losing his father at age seven, his mother needed him to help her make ends meet for the family. School was not an option; a cost that could not be afforded. Still, Sofonias was eager to learn, picking his friends’ brains to understand basic addition and subtraction when the pandemic forced schools to close. Yet before joining Luminos’ free Second Chance program, Sofonias was still unable to read and write at age 11.

Today, Sofonias says reading and writing are his favorite subjects, “I like doing classwork—especially when I receive a check mark from my teacher! Coming to school gives me some pride.” Learning to read, write, and do math transforms a life forever—and teachers like Elias are the ones who make it happen.

Elias became a Second Chance teacher four years ago after finishing high school. Originally unable to place into the government university or afford a private university, Elias’ career options felt limited. Part of Luminos’ unique model includes recruiting young adults in the communities we serve as teachers and providing them with rigorous training and ongoing coaching. Our primary requirement is a 10th-grade education, creating a career path for promising men and women. Elias was a perfect candidate and grew into a remarkable teacher.

Elias inside the classroom with his students. Sofonias is pictured behind him in the pink shirt.

“I enjoy teaching all subjects,” Elias says. “When I started, I was inclined to reading and writing but now I enjoy teaching every subject.” Elias’ students see him as warm and friendly, someone they enjoy learning from.

One of his students, an eleven-year-old boy named Mussie says, “He always advises us not to be afraid and to be confident. I like that.”  

With an anticipated global teacher shortage of 69 million teachers according to UNESCO, tapping into the potential of local young adults like Elias has never been more important. In the May Devex piece “How to treat the learning crisis like a health crisis,” Luminos CEO, Caitlin Baron, expounds upon this point noting, “If the global community truly wants children to catch-up in COVID-19’s aftermath, we must fill the global teacher shortage to power this effort… Building a workforce of community teachers is an urgent opportunity, as stretched systems grapple with learning loss.”

Today, on World Teachers’ Day, we celebrate the incredible work our teachers are doing in classrooms around the world. To our all our teachers: thank you. You inspire us every day with your devotion to the students in your classrooms and your dreams for their futures.

Sofonias outside his classroom. When he grows up, he wants to be a teacher like Elias.

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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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