Teachers Transforming Education: Five Key Learnings from Luminos’ Event

Teachers Transforming Education: Five Key Learnings from Luminos’ Event

The Luminos Fund’s sixth annual U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) week luncheon event, “Teachers Leading in a Post-COVID World,” discussed innovative strategies to tackle the global teacher shortage and ensure teachers have the tools and training they need to help children become successful learners in a post-COVID world.

The panel discussion, moderated by Luminos CEO, Caitlin Baron, included:

  • Dr. Andrew Cunningham, Aga Khan Foundation
  • Dr. Asyia Kazmi, OBE, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dr. Vongai Nyahunzvi, Teach for All

The event also marked the launch of the Luminos Method – a new series of resources that combine the latest research with key practices and data from our work. The first three elements of the Luminos Method are available in interactive web and PDF formats, including Community Teachers, Teacher-Led Assessment, and Identify and Self-Belief.

Against this backdrop, each panelist shared important insights on how teachers can be empowered to create an environment of transformational learning. Of the many valuable lessons they shared, here are five that stood out:

1) We need to think differently about who can be a teacher, how we train them, and how we support them.

“Teachers need ongoing support. It’s a contact sport. It’s a team sport. You cannot tell the teacher at the beginning of the year, ‘This is what you need to do for the rest of the year,’ and walk away.”

Dr. Asyia Kazmi, OBE, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The world is facing a global teacher shortage, with UNESCO estimating that almost 69 million teachers need to be recruited to achieve universal education by 2030. The Community Teachers element of the Luminos Method is our response to this global challenge.

Our experience shows that motivated people recruited from the same communities as our students can become great teachers for the early grades, provided they have quality training, practical written guidance, and ongoing in-classroom support.

With a supportive environment, we believe community teachers can play a critical role in reaching the most vulnerable children and enabling them to catch up with their peers.

2) Teachers can build a child’s confidence (and change their life).

“I could have been a number.” – Dr. Vongai Nyahunzvi, Teach for All

Instead, Dr. Nyahunzvi’s teacher said three powerful words that changed her life: “You are enough.”

“I remember in that moment… she built something inside of me to a point that I became the first generation [in my family] to attain levels of education beyond grade seven,” said Dr. Nyahunzvi.

How can we help students change their perceptions of themselves, build their confidence, and enable students to see themselves as successful learners, well-equipped to return to government schools? How do we ensure our teachers are building our students’ sense of self-belief and sending a clear message that all children can learn?

The Identity & Self-Belief element of the Luminos Method describes how we address these challenges by building self-belief among our students,

which in turn supports further successes in a virtuous circle that can continue throughout the students’ school career and beyond.

3) Assessment is essential.

“When I heard about Luminos and what you are able to do in nine months–that perhaps the public systems are not able to do in three years—I remember saying, ‘I bet you they have a really strong assessment-informed instruction principle.’ That means they’re using assessment information to understand where children are. They are then supporting the teachers to say, ‘Where do they need to be and how we can help you get there?’”

Dr. Asyia Kazmi, OBE, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Luminos views regular assessment as an essential component of education that is truly learner-centered and based on individual needs. The Teacher-Led Assessment element of the Luminos Method highlights strategies to empower teachers to track their students’ progress using a mix of weekly assessments and informal techniques. Equipping teachers with simple assessment tools, along with the appropriate coaching and support, is essential to keep students’ learning on track.

4) We must value and respect local cultures and communities.

While teachers should have access to detailed lesson plans and curriculum, we also believe there should be flexibility for teachers to utilize their expertise and knowledge of the local culture and context. For example, at Luminos, reading materials, songs, games, and role-play are relevant to the children’s mother tongue and culture. Family members and other community figures participate in students’ learning as well.

Learn more about ways Luminos works to ensure students feel their culture and identity is valued in the Identity & Self-Belief element of the Luminos Method.

“When you think about what assets this community has—you think, there’s wisdom in the grandparents—and then by involving them in the schools, in the academic, it helps the kids learn and build from what they know.”

Dr. Vongai Nyahunzvi, Teach for All

5) All children can learn.

“With the right skills and support, anyone can be anything.”

Dr. Vongai Nyahunzvi, Teach for All

All children should have equal access to joyful, foundational learning, especially those shut out of education by crisis, poverty, or discrimination. When given a second chance at education, children can learn, thrive, and succeed throughout their lives.

Yet 70% of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read a simple story. As a sector, we desperately need to extend our reach and provide quality education to the most vulnerable communities around the world. By sharing the Luminos Method, we move closer to making this possibility a reality. 

Unlocking the Light

The Luminos UNGA week event highlights that by providing teachers with simple, but effective tools, training, and support, teachers can be empowered to truly unlock the light of learning in children.

“Teachers can own, lead, and inspire change.”

Dr. Andrew Cunningham, Aga Khan Foundation

BBC News Features the Luminos Fund in Ethiopia

BBC News Features the Luminos Fund in Ethiopia

BBC News Africa featured the Luminos Fund’s program in Ethiopia, highlighting how we address challenges of child labor by ensuring all children have equal access to joyful, foundational learning. Watch the segment to see inside our classrooms and hear from Dr. Alemayehu Hailu Gebre, Ethiopia Country Director & Regional Strategic Advisor for the Luminos Fund.

A summary of their report was also shared on the BBC News Africa Facebook page.

Luminos Awarded 2022 Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prize

Luminos Awarded 2022 Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prize

  • The Luminos Fund, headquartered in the United States, recognized for catch-up education programs for out-of-school children in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, which have reached more than 172,000 children
  • The Luminos Fund is one of three Best Practice Prize recipients who will be awarded CHF 200,000 ($206,000) each at a ceremony taking place in Zurich on 30 September
  • They were selected from a shortlist of 10 finalists, all of whom will convene for a co-creation event, taking place on 1 October 2022, and are eligible for follow-on funding of up to CHF 150,000

The Luminos Fund has been named a recipient of a CHF 200,000 ($206,000) Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prize 2022. It is one of three best practice winners that are being honored for outstanding achievement and practice in advancing quality education.

The two other recipients of this year’s Best Practice Prizes are the Luker Foundation, which provides reading programs for children in Colombia and Panama; and Youth Impact, a grassroots, youth-led movement that pioneered simple math tutorials by phone and text message in Botswana, India, Kenya, Nepal, Uganda, and the Philippines.

The three Best Practice Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony in Zurich on 30 September 2022. The recipients were selected from a shortlist of 10 finalists, all of whom will convene for a co-creation event, taking place on 1 October 2022. They will exchange knowledge and ideas on advancing learning, and will have the opportunity to partner with other shortlisted applicants to develop proposals for new projects. Two concepts will receive follow-on funding of up to CHF 150,000 ($155,000) each.

The Luminos Fund is being recognized for providing transformative education programs for out-of-school children aged 8-14 in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, helping them to catch up on three years of learning in just 10 months, then reintegrate into local government schools. Each year, over 90% of Luminos students advance to local government schools, and at least 75% remain in school after 12 months.

With a focus on learning-through-play and assessment-led pedagogy, the Luminos Fund strives to make learning a joyful experience, to equip students with a positive outlook on education. The program is delivered through community-based partners whose capabilities Luminos helps build, support, and oversee. Classrooms are taught by high-potential local young adults who Luminos trains to teach, thereby fueling local education systems with much-needed trained resources.

To date, the Luminos Fund has supported more than 172,000 children across Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, The Gambia, and Lebanon, and plans to reach an additional 200,000 students by 2024. They work with governments, advising on curriculum development, strategies, and national education policy.

The Luminos Fund plans to invest the winning funds in supporting new programs in Ghana and expanding its operations in The Gambia. It will also launch the Luminos Method, a collection of best practices aimed at accelerating their vision of helping all children achieve foundational learning across the globe.

Fabio Segura and Simon Sommer, co-CEOs of the Jacobs Foundation, said:

“We want to warmly congratulate the Luminos Fund on being awarded a 2022 Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prize. These prizes were created to showcase the groundbreaking work that businesses, social ventures, and non-profits all around the world are doing to ensure children have access to quality education. There is not a moment to lose. By bringing to light the evidence of what works we can use it to implement solutions that can be tailored to learners’ diverse individual needs.

“We can’t wait to see what innovative ideas the Luminos Fund and our other 2022 Best Practice Prizes top 10 finalists are able to develop together at our co-creation event. With the deadline for SDG4 fast approaching, the education community must work together to jointly come up with solutions to ensure equitable education for all.”

Caitlin Baron, CEO of the Luminos Fund, said:

“We are so thrilled to receive this prestigious award, particularly as it is based on such rigorous criteria. We would like to thank the Jacobs Foundation for shining a light on the important work that organizations around the world are doing to advance education, and we look forward to exchanging ideas with all the amazing 2022 Best Practice Prize finalists.”

Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes

Recipients must demonstrate outstanding achievement in advancing learning and education, and embrace variability in learning. Their projects should draw on scientific evidence, use a clear results framework, and must be sustainable, scalable, and financially viable. Finally, they must build on strong leadership and partner networks.

In memory of its founder, the entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs, who passed away in 2008, the Jacobs Foundation presents two awards every other year for exceptional achievements in research and practice in the field of child and youth development and learning. The Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize rewards scientific work that is highly relevant to society, and the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes honor exceptional commitment and innovative solutions of institutions or individuals.  

Notes to editors:

The Jacobs Foundation is active worldwide in promoting child and youth development and learning. The Foundation was founded in Zurich by entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs in 1989. As part of its Strategy 2030, it has committed 500 million Swiss francs to advance evidence-based ideas for learning, to support schools in offering quality education, and to transform education ecosystems around the world. https://jacobsfoundation.org/en/

 

Media contact:

Jacobs Foundation

Alexandra Guentzer, Chief Communications Officer

alexandra.guentzer@jacobsfoundation.org 

Tel. + 41 (0) 79 821 74 29

 

The Luminos Fund

Michael Stulman, Director of Communications

michael@luminosfund.org 

Tel: + 1 667 289 7534

Luminos Publishes 2021 Annual Report

Luminos Publishes 2021 Annual Report

The Luminos Fund is proud to share our 2021 Annual Report.

While COVID-19 has inflicted extraordinary damage on education for the most vulnerable children, Luminos is tackling this challenge head-on, bringing laser focus and commitment to ensure every child has a chance to catch up and thrive.

Highlights

Luminos achieved several significant milestones, including:

out-of-school children served across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

out-of-school children reached during the 2021-22 school year.

out-of-school children served through the launch of a new country program in Ghana.

Establishing a new project in The Gambia, providing curriculum development and advisory services to the government.

Expanding our team of ‘Lumineers’ by more than 58% to support the growth of our education programs – a majority of whom are based in Africa.

Stories

The 2021 Annual Report also contains stories of lives transformed through the power of education, including children like Batoul, a Luminos student and Syrian refugee in Lebanon, who is exploring and cultivating her potential in a safe, welcoming classroom.

We highlight an enthusiastic and passionate teacher in Ghana, Adams, who is beloved by all his students.

Siah, a Luminos alumna in Liberia, reflects on the ways our classroom helped prepare her for success getting to 6th grade.

Our 2021 Annual Report tells these stories and more.

While the world has a long way to go before recovering from the consequences of COVID-19, we hope you read the report and share our passion and urgency to help children catch up on education.

Thank you for being a part of the Luminos community.

Africa Day: A New Dawn

Africa Day: A New Dawn

By: Kirstin Buchanan

Each year on May 25, Africans and others around the globe celebrate Africa Day. The day commemorates the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), known today as the African Union, which was Africa’s first post-independence continental institution. For Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, Africa Day signifies unity, pride in being African, and an opportunity to celebrate the continent’s progress while reflecting on the common challenges yet to overcome.

Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka,
Former Minister of Education, Zimbabwe

In honor of Africa Day, we are sharing the story of a true African visionary and luminary in the education sector: Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka. Dzingai served as the first Minister of Education and Culture for Zimbabwe upon its Independence from Britain from 1980 to 1988, and as Minister of Higher Education from 1988 to 1989. He currently serves on the Governing Board of several institutions and is also a member of the Luminos Fund’s Advisory Board.

When the charter that created the OAU was signed in May 1963, several African states had not yet won their independence. This was the case in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), the home of Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka. Dzingai, who grew up against the backdrop of colonialism and racial segregation, describes his childhood as very challenging. He was raised by his maternal grandmother in a very poor household and credits his success to the core values she instilled in him: values that remain with him today.

“She would say to me: it doesn’t matter how poor you are or what your stage in life is. If you are hardworking and determined, you can achieve anything,” Dzingai says.

Although he was just a teenager at the time, Dzingai recalls the great significance 25 May 1963 held for Africans everywhere and for ushering in a tide of change across the continent and beyond. The formation of the OAU called for unity among African countries that transcends ethnic and national differences. Additionally, the OAU promoted cooperation in pursuit of a shared goal to rid the continent of colonialism and apartheid and create a world where Africans control their own destiny.

“The idea of uniting was to make sure that never again would Africa be colonized. The idea was that slavery came because Africans were divided. Colonialism came because Africans were divided. If we were to maintain our newfound freedom, it was important that Africans fight as one.”

– Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka

Since ending colonialism and apartheid in Africa, there has been significant progress with governance, economic growth and inclusiveness, infrastructure development, health, and education across the continent. For instance, Africa has made steady progress in increasing life expectancy at birth over the last 60 years and improved infant mortality by around 30% over the past 20 years (AFDB). Furthermore, the continent has made considerable progress in boosting primary and lower secondary school enrollment (World Bank).

There is much to celebrate, but also still much to overcome. As power and wealth still largely remain concentrated in the hands of a few, deep structural and systemic inequalities continue to beset African societies.

“I think the link between decolonization and economic wellbeing was a stretch, and it remains a stretch today in Africa,” says Dzingai. “This is an important frontier for us, and it immediately leads to the question of education. Because, as Mandela once said, education is the most important tool with which you can change society.”

Dzingai’s journey is a testament to this. Unlike so many other boys and girls across the continent, he was given an opportunity: thanks to an anonymous donor, Dzingai was able to complete his secondary education when his family could no longer afford to send him to school. In spite of the inevitable roadblocks presented by a segregated education system, Dzingai excelled in school, earning scholarships and awards that enabled him to go on to pursue higher education. These experiences would later inspire his work as Zimbabwe’s first Minister of Education.

“When I became Minister of Education at independence, I wanted Zimbabwe to be different. I wanted the quality of education in Zimbabwe to be different. I did not want the average child growing up in Zimbabwe to go through what I went through. I wanted every child to have access to the best education that was possible.”

– Dr. Dzingai Mutumbuka

When inheriting a system built on structural inequality, transformative action is required to achieve greater equity for all.

“The system needed radical reform and radical change in order to prepare young people for a healthy and productive future to end the crisis that Africa faces today,” says Dzingai.

Regrettably, the continent has struggled to ensure quality and universal education for all.  Without urgent action, the situation will likely worsen as the region faces a rising demand for education due to a still-growing school-age population (UNESCO).

But there is hope—Africa has overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and continues to demonstrate resounding resilience and strength. There is incredible power in unity and committing to invest in the region’s collective future, and with the right African leadership, Africa’s future is bright.

When we come together on May 25 to celebrate solidarity and Africa’s collective progress, let us also remember this as an opportunity to unite to solve the common challenges that the continent still faces in a global environment. For Dzingai, Africa’s most transformational progress is yet to come. The potential for transformation hinges on its youth and future leaders, and importantly, the willingness of current leaders to prioritize investments in their people, especially young people and their education.

“If these young people are given space to really implement some of their wild ideas,” Dzingai says, “it will not take time before we see changes in Africa that we never thought were possible.”


To hear more from Dzingai, visit his page from Luminos’ “Education Leadership through Crisis” series.


Kirstin Buchanan serves as the Development & Communications Associate at the Luminos Fund where she amplifies student voices and program stories, in addition to helping drive content, messaging, and fundraising strategy. She holds a MA in International Affairs and BA in International Relations from Boston University, as well as a certificate in Latin American studies.

71 Commercial Street, #232 | Boston, MA 02109 |  USA
+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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