Community Teachers

I. Our Community Teachers

II. Training

III. Ongoing Support

IV. The Essentials for Success

Why We Need Community Teachers

The world desperately needs more teachers, with UNESCO estimating that almost 69 million teachers need to be recruited to achieve universal education by 2030. In sub-Saharan Africa, the situation is particularly critical, with 70% of countries facing acute teacher shortages. The international community will be unable to fulfill its commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 of inclusive and equitable quality education unless we begin to think more expansively about our teaching corps.

teachers are needed worldwide

The Community Teachers element of the Luminos Method is our response to this global challenge. We believe minimally trained, but well-supported teachers drawn from the same low-income communities we serve can play a critical role in reaching the most vulnerable children and enabling them to catch up with their peers.

This approach has achieved powerful results in our accelerated education programs. For example, in Liberia, most children start the Luminos program unable to identify letters of the alphabet. After 10 months, they graduate from the program reading at an average of 39 words per minute (whereas assessments on grade 3 students in government schools in Liberia have shown students to read at around 20 words per minute).

Key Messages

Community teachers play a critical role in making the Luminos program work. We believe there are three key aspects that make our teachers successful:

This webpage includes an overview of who the Luminos Fund’s community teachers are and why believe they are able to achieve such powerful results. For more detailed information, and a discussion of how this element of the Luminos Method might be able to be adapted and used in other contexts, you can download this document.

Our Approach

I. Our Community Teachers

Who are our community teachers?

We recruit high-potential young people from the same communities as our students: providing students with role models and mentors who speak the same language and understand children’s backgrounds. Community teachers are high-school graduates with solid literacy and numeracy skills who also demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Passion for education and a belief in the potential of all children
  • Desire and aptitude for learning new things
  • Self-motivation and hard work ethic
  • An aptitude for teaching and ability to problem solve

What do community teachers do?

The teachers work with students five or six days per week (depending on the context), seven hours per day, over a 10-month period. They are responsible for conducting regular assessments of student learning and liaising with parents.

To learn more about our teachers, their background, and how we recruit them, download the full PDF!

Meet a Teacher: Tegitu

II. Training Community Teachers

How is training structured?

The annual training schedule is approximately 30 days in total spread throughout the year. This structure varies slightly between locations in response to the local context. In Liberia, for example, the training is typically structured as shown below.

A Community Teacher's training journey

In this example, teachers join an initial induction training before the school year starts, then have further training sessions before the second and third phases of the curriculum. There are also monthly one-day workshops during each phase. This provides teachers with relevant and timely feedback, and allows for application and reflection, in line with adult learning principles, and models of teacher development. [1]

How do we approach our training?

During teacher training, we model the kind of learning environment we want for our students. Our methodology is very interactive and fun. We promote discussion, collaboration, and inquiry. We provide frequent opportunities for teachers to learn from their peers. New recruits join workshops alongside existing teachers, providing opportunities for the latter to share their valuable experience.  The training uses low-tech resources that would be appropriate for the classroom, including homemade flash cards, and natural resources (sticks, stones, and clay), alongside techniques using no resources, incorporating song and movement.

The Luminos Method promotes safe-spaces to discuss issues like child-protection and corporal punishment, allowing teachers to reflect on how these shaped their school experiences. Community teachers are encouraged to consider how they can ensure their classrooms are welcoming places for children who have often had difficult experiences within formal education.

A particular strength is that activities during training model the participatory techniques expected of facilitators in class. Leaders exemplify good practice throughout, listening carefully and encouraging facilitator contributions, gently correcting mistakes.

University of Sussex (2019)

Meet a Teacher: Elias

What does the training cover?

The training content is very practical. The topics vary slightly between locations and from year-to-year to allow for different needs, but the initial induction training typically includes:

  • Language and literacy instruction
  • Mathematics instruction
  • Activity-based learning
  • Classroom set-up
  • Classroom management and positive discipline
  • Student assessment
  • Record keeping
  • Remediation
  • Child protection
  • Working with families and the community
  • Subject knowledge for teachers (when needed)

Subsequent trainings typically focus on new skills and content being taught in the later phases of the curriculum. They are also informed by data on student achievement and observations made by supervisors who visit the classrooms regularly. To learn more about the Luminos Method and the training we provide to teachers, download the full PDF!

III. Ongoing Support for Community Teachers

Coaching visits

In their first year of the program, community teachers receive weekly visits from a supervisor who is monitoring the implementation of the curriculum and pedagogy and providing critical support. As many studies have showed, teachers benefit from ongoing, in-class coaching. [2] As teachers grow in confidence they are visited less often, but still every few weeks.

Supervisors are mostly staff from partner organizations, although some Luminos Fund program staff also play this role.

During classroom visits, supervisors perform the following tasks:

  • Observe teaching and provide feedback on teaching quality
  • Check teachers are well prepared for lessons
  • Check teachers have up to date records on attendance and student achievement
  • Check teachers are setting fluency targets for students
  • Check the classroom environment for relevant materials and learning areas
  • Gauge student progress with literacy and numeracy skills
  • Talk to teachers about students’ progress and students in need of remediation

Supervisors are guided to take a positive, constructive approach when giving feedback. As in the training, teachers are encouraged to enter into a dialogue about their practice with their supervisor. To learn more about the ongoing support we provide to community teachers, download the full PDF!

Meet a Supervisor: Dejene

IV. The Essentials to Ensure Community Teacher Success

We believe there are three key aspects that make our teachers successful:

1. Who they are:

  • Recruiting community teachers from within the same communities provides students with role models and mentors who speak the same language and understand children’s backgrounds.
  • Higher education is not essential for success, as long as community teachers have basic literacy and numeracy skills, an enthusiasm for teaching, and a willingness to learn.

2. How we train them:

  • Community teachers need high-quality, interactive training so they can experience the kind of learning we want them to recreate for their students.
  • This includes both using the fun and engaging pedagogy we promote in classrooms, as well creating a caring and encouraging ethos where teachers and students feel safe to try new things.

      3. How we support them:

      • It is essential to create a supportive environment and promote opportunities for teachers to learn from their peers.
        • For example, observing the teachers in action and providing constructive feedback ensures that the pedagogy and curriculum is being delivered as planned and helps to ensure that teachers feel supported in their roles.

      We believe that this approach could also be of value outside of accelerated education programs, and may potentially be a useful method to help to address the global shortage of teachers. The Community Teachers element of the Luminos Method discusses our approach to hiring, training and supporting teachers in more detail and discusses potential for this model to be used in other contexts.

      Footnotes & References

      [1] For example, Knowles (1970) argued that adult learning experiences need to concentrate on solving immediate problems and learning from experience and Kolb (1984) stresses the importance of reflection on practice. Guskey’s (2002) model of teacher development highlighted the need for regular touch-points to support teachers in changing their behavior.

      [2] For the impact of coaching see, for example, Orr et al. (2013) Fleisch (2018), Cilliers et al. (2019), and Piper and Dubeck (n.d.).


      Fleisch, B. (2018). The education triple cocktail: System-wide instructional reform in South Africa. UCT Press.

      Knowles, M. (1970). The modern practice of adult education. Association Press.

      Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice-Hall.

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