On a bustling government school campus in Liberia, students on their lunch break fill the air with loud and lively conversation.
Tucked away from the midday sun under the cool shade of a corridor, a Luminos alum named Emmanuel shares his story. At 15 years old, Emmanuel has achieved something remarkable: he’s made it to the eighth grade after being out of school for nearly a decade. And he has no plans of stopping.
“I’d like to go and continue my education past high school — go to college, and get a degree in medicine,” he says.
These big dreams and achievements are possible because Emmanuel attended Luminos’ catch-up education program four years ago. Inside a joyful, interactive classroom, Emmanuel learned how to read, write, and do math for the first time.
“I’m proud to be in school and learning because they teach us, and we can learn, and then take it home to our parents.”
Emmanuel, Luminos alum
“I like school because education is a powerful tool and the key to everything,” he explains.
Emmanuel’s mother, Josephine, marveled at the pace at which he was learning.
“They were learning really fast,” she says. “And he’s still progressing. The program helped him a lot. I’m proud that he can read and write.”
Emmanuel and his fellow Luminos alum, Princess, stand with their former Luminos teacher, Varney.
Josephine, who had to drop out of school after first grade, saw the Luminos program as an opportunity to ensure Emmanuel’s future would be different from her own.
When Josephine learned about Luminos’ free catch-up education program, she knew it was a second chance to help her son learn, grow, and gain the tools he needed to succeed — and the first step for their family into the world of education.
In the Luminos classroom, Emmanuel discovered his passion for math, which quickly became his favorite subject.
“Everything in math is my favorite — subtraction, percentages, addition,” Emmanuel says.
When Emmanuel completed the Luminos program, he was equipped with strong foundational learning skills and transitioned into fourth grade at his local government school.
One of Emmanuel’s current teachers, Robert, was amazed at the differences between Luminos alumni like Emmanuel and other students. Luminos students were better behaved, able to concentrate for longer periods, could pronounce words correctly, and were much more likely to volunteer — especially to read in front of the class.
“They were learning really fast. And he’s still progressing. The program helped him a lot. I’m proud that he can read and write.”
Josephine, mother of Luminos alum Emmanuel
“Emmanuel is especially good at math,” Robert notes, observing that while other students will count using their fingers, Emmanuel is able to do mental math quickly. Robert says that, even during breaks, Emmanuel can often be found in the classroom running his friends through math problems on the blackboard.
“It helped me,” says Emmanuel of the Luminos program. “Before I didn’t know math, and now I know math and I’m on the Middle School Academic Team!” As a member of his school’s Academic Team, Emmanuel participates in quiz competitions where he excels at answering math questions.
“I’m proud to be in school and learning,” says Emmanuel, “because they teach us, and we can learn, and then take it home to our parents.”
In addition to bringing knowledge home to his family, Emmanuel dreams of improving his community.
“I want to see my community get better. I want to see water pumps and a market every day. I want to be a doctor because a doctor helps other people.”
Meet Emmanuel’s Former Luminos Teacher: Varney
Varney, now a supervisor of Luminos classrooms, was Emmanuel’s teacher in 2019 when Emmanuel attended the Luminos program.
“Emmanuel was very smart,” Varney recalls. Varney is not surprised by Emmanuel’s continued love of math, noting that Emmanuel helped as his teacher’s assistant in mathematics. Varney still comes to check on his former Luminos students on their government school campus.