Education in Liberia
Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia has faced decades of intermittent instability and conflict since the 1980’s, and, in many ways, is still recovering from the Ebola outbreak in 2015, when schools were closed for an entire year. Liberia suffers from one of the highest recorded rates of out-of-school children in the world, with 56% of primary-school-age children currently missing out on an education.
Students who do manage to enroll must overcome barriers to learning in the classroom. With over 30 languages spoken throughout Liberia, students speaking a dialect at home may struggle to learn even basic concepts when they are taught in English, the official language of instruction. Unqualified teachers exacerbate the problem and may lead parents to withdraw their students from school.
Number of children out of school (primary school)
Percent of children out of school (primary school age)
Government expenditure on education (as % of government expenditure)
Qualified teachers in primary school
Barriers to Learning
What We’re Doing
Since 2016, the Luminos Fund has worked in Liberia to scale up Second Chance, an accelerated learning program that supports children to become literate and numerate in 10 months. To date, we have reached over 9,500 students and now operate across four counties. Many students in our Liberia program are first-generation readers and have been out of school, so the opportunity to learn to read is especially meaningful for their families and themselves.
In Second Chance, Luminos applies the best global knowledge regarding what’s most effective for first-generation readers and reimagines it for the Liberian context. Through a joyful and phonics-centered curriculum, classes capped at 30 students, 8-hour school days, and locally developed reading materials, we enable children to become independent readers. In a Second Chance school day, on average, five hours are spent on literacy. Children see themselves in the texts and reading is presented as an integral part of the world around them.
We use a structured approach to phonics to ensure students build the requisite skills to read by the end of the program. We try to strike a balance between direct instruction, which is essential to teach the technical aspects of reading, and activity-based learning, which is at the core of our pedagogy. Students practice using Elkonin Sound Boxes and Blending Ladders, as well as finger tapping as a multi-sensory way to learn spelling and syllables. We are streamlining the process wherein teachers give students weekly timed reading assignments and remedial support is provided to the bottom performers. Our goal is to not leave any child behind as a reader.
Additionally, we provide weekly coaching and supervision in the classroom, conduct regular teacher training workshops, and are proud to partner with the Liberian Ministry of Education (MoE). For example, the MoE provisions some classroom space to Luminos and we train MoE officials on our Second Chance pedagogy.
Children given a second
Second Chance classrooms
Second Chance facilitators
and partners trained
Cumulative Program Results
- Liberia Institute for the Promotion of Academic Excellence (LIPACE)
- Restoring Our Children’s Hope (ROCH)
- Youth Movement for Collective Action (UMOVEMENT)
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