Suraiya’s first reaction upon entering her Luminos classroom was awe — she thought it was beautiful.
The humble building dedicated to learning was a beautiful sight in Suraiya’s eyes because it represented a long-awaited opportunity to join her peers in an environment that had always been out of reach.
“I had never stepped in one before,” Suraiya says wistfully. At age 12, Suraiya had never been to school. In the Ashanti region of Ghana, where Suraiya and her family live, it is all too common for children to miss out on education. Nearly 23,000 primary-school-aged children in Ashanti are out of school.
In 2022, Luminos officially launched in Ghana to give out-of-school children in the Ashanti region a second chance at education. Suraiya was one of 1,500 children enrolled in Luminos’ classrooms.
“She wasn’t able to read at first, but now she is improving. She hadn’t been to school before so she wasn’t able to do math, but now she can.”
Ramatou, Suraiya’s mother
Suraiya and her mother, Ramatou, used to work together on the family’s charcoal farm to make a living — Ramatou did not have the money to send Suraiya to school. Every day, Suraiya would accompany her mother to a plot of land in the forest, cut down wood, and burn it into charcoal to sell.
During a reading lesson, one of Suraiya’s classmates answers a question.
Through the free Luminos program, Suraiya quickly began learning how to read, write, and do math.
English is her favorite subject, but Suraiya also enjoys learning addition and singing along with her teacher, Adams. Suraiya admires Adams and appreciates the way he helps her learn.
“When he teaches, I understand,” says Suraiya. “He has been telling me that I will do well in the future.” With her teacher’s encouragement, Suraiya feels inspired about her learning progress. “I want to be brilliant!” she declares.
Suraiya’s mother also notices her growth.
“She wasn’t able to read at first, but now she is improving. She hadn’t been to school before so she wasn’t able to do math, but now she can,” says Ramatou.
Ramatou is not able to read or write, but she can see Suraiya’s progress as Suraiya brings home materials to practice reading aloud. Suraiya also shares what she learns in the Luminos program with her siblings and the neighborhood children that come to her for help.
Adams leads his class, including Suraiya (third from the left), in a warm-up activity before class begins.
“She helps them to read,” beams Ramatou.
Suraiya was steadfast in her attendance during the school year, believing education will help her become a better person in the future. After completing the Luminos program among the top three students in her class, Suraiya is advancing into the local government school. She dreams of continuing her education all the way through college and becoming a nurse.
“I will become a nurse and bring pride to my parents,” Suraiya declares. “I will come and take care of the sick here.”
“I want to be brilliant!”
Suraiya, Luminos student
Photo credit for this story: Mara Chan