Emily: A Luminos Colleague Responds to a Government Invitation

Emily: A Luminos Colleague Responds to a Government Invitation

While The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa — with just less than 2.5 million residents — the value of education is clear, even if achieving quality education for all is still a challenge.

“People understand why they need to go to school and its direct impacts on their futures – like being able to live in a house and not a temporary structure, being able to speak English. The benefits and impacts of education are clear even to the youngest learners in The Gambia and it is something they yearn for,” explains Emily Joof, Associate Director of Programs at Luminos, who is based in Banjul.

At the request of The Gambian government, based on our unique expertise and program track record worldwide, Luminos is providing curriculum development support and advisory services to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and co-creating a practical plan that will ensure all out-of-school primary-aged children in The Gambia receive a second chance at education.

“Every child deserves to be given the opportunity to explore and realize their full potentials through schooling,” says Mr. Momodou Jeng, Director of Curriculum Research Evaluation and Development Directorate at MoBSE and a key partner to Luminos. “This is my conviction.”

“Every child deserves to be given the opportunity to explore and realize their full potentials through schooling. This is my conviction.”

Mr. Momodou Jeng, Director of Curriculum Research Evaluation and Development Directorate at MoBSE

“When you look at the numbers of out-of-school children in the country, we are confident we can get 50,000 kids into school and learning,” says Emily. “This is a solvable problem.”

Although funding for education is scarce compared to the needs, teachers in The Gambia are fully committed to their students. Their passion often extends beyond the classroom, as they tend to wear many hats: nurturer, caregiver, health worker – even nutritionist.

However, there is a long road ahead. Public classrooms tend to be bare. Unlike Luminos classrooms, there are no colorful posters on the wall, no markers, pens, and few, if any, books for the students. Teachers need a user-friendly accelerated curriculum suitable for out-of-school and vulnerable children, as well as regular training, resources, and support.

“Regardless of how excellent our curriculum may be, if teachers don’t know how to teach it, it’s all for naught. Teacher training will be critical for The Gambia,” says Emily.

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Mr. Jeng (center, in suit jacket) visiting a Luminos classroom in Liberia as part of the MoBSE learning trip.

In 2022, Luminos invited The Gambia’s MoBSE to visit our programs in Liberia, where they had an opportunity to see the benefits of continuous training and feedback for teachers.

“After each teacher training session, teachers would be prompted: What went well, and what didn’t go well? It is really important that we have relationships built on trust, because if not, we won’t be able see the transformation we want to see,” explains Emily.

For Emily, who recently moved back to The Gambia to work with Luminos, her interest in education is deeply rooted.

“Education is a big part of who I am. My grandmother was one of the first teachers in The Gambia. We have a lot of teachers in my family. We are proof of and the advocates for education as a tool to lift yourself out of poverty and reach your fullest potential.”

Emily Joof, Associate Director of Programs

“Education is a big part of who I am. My grandmother was one of the first teachers in The Gambia. We have a lot of teachers in my family,” she says. “We are proof of and the advocates for education as a tool to lift yourself out of poverty and reach your fullest potential.”

Looking ahead, Luminos is excited to grow our partnership with the government and realize our vision where thousands of children catch up to grade level, reintegrate into government schools, and prepare for lifelong learning.

“There is an eagerness for this change in The Gambia, which is really unparalleled,” says Emily.

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

To learn more about our work in The Gambia, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Ahmed Jallanzo

Siah: A Luminos Alumna Keeps Reaching for Her Education Dreams

Siah: A Luminos Alumna Keeps Reaching for Her Education Dreams

A massive mango tree casts a shade over Siah’s school, offering some respite from the humid Liberian sun.

Every morning, Siah walks the short distance from her bright blue house to her 6th grade classroom eager to learn for the day.

“The Luminos program helped prepare me for the school I’m in now.”

Siah, a Luminos alumna

It was not always like this for Siah. Her parents were unable to afford the school fees to send Siah, the youngest of five children, to government school. Instead, Siah helped her mother sell traditional Liberian meals, like pepper meat soup, around her community.

Three years ago, at the age of 10, Siah finally started school for the first time in a Luminos classroom in Bomi County.

When Luminos began offering our free catch-up education program in Siah’s community, her parents jumped at the chance to send her to school. Siah remembers her time in the Luminos classroom fondly.

“It helped me learn how to pronounce words—how to read and write,” she says. One of her favorite memories was learning to use phonics to break down letter sounds in a word. Luminos’ program was instrumental in helping Siah step forward on the path of learning.

“The Luminos program helped prepare me for the school I’m in now,” Siah says. When Siah started Luminos’ program, she was unable to read the alphabet, do math, or identify letters. By the end of the one-year program, Siah was a top student in her class.

Siah’s parents were struck by her transformation. When Siah’s mother, Kumba, saw the progress her daughter was making with Luminos, she vowed to keep Siah in school. Siah transitioned into 3rd grade at her local government school when she completed the Luminos program. Today, Siah attends 6th grade and continues to help her mother sell hot meals in the afternoon.

“I also like to play kickball with my friends!” Siah adds with enthusiasm.

Using the skills she learned in Luminos’ program, Siah has become a fervent reader and loves stories. Her favorite subject is social studies.

“I like to hear the story of our country,” Siah says. Siah’s passion for stories and her country has grown into a dream of being a journalist. “If I become a journalist, I would help others in the community. If there was something happening in our country, I would announce it to the public.”

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

Siah and her mother, Kumba, outside their home. Kumba jokes that Siah’s love of talking will make her an excellent journalist.

Through the Luminos program, Siah received a second chance at education and a deeply instilled joy of learning.

“If I become a journalist, I would help others in the community. If there was something happening in our country, I would announce it to the public.”

Siah, a Luminos alumna

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Siah standing outside her home, proudly wearing her favorite color: purple.

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Liberia program, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Mara Chan

Batoul: A Syrian Refugee Reaches Brighter Days After Unimaginable Hardship

Batoul: A Syrian Refugee Reaches Brighter Days After Unimaginable Hardship

Sitting at a desk surrounded by classmates, 11-year-old Batoul treasures her paper, pencils, and books — prized possessions at this Luminos classroom in Baalbek, situated in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.

One of 13 million Syrians violently displaced from their home, Batoul has yearned for a sense of normalcy and an education like other children her age.

Civil war, crisis, and displacement have severely disrupted the lives and education of the Syrian refugee children Luminos serves in Lebanon.

“She feels that the school is her second home. She trusts her teacher.”

Nawal, Batoul’s mother

Our programs support children — both academically and emotionally — so they can catch up to grade level in safe, welcoming classrooms and prepare to advance into Lebanese government schools. Classrooms are full of joy, resilience, kindness, and warmth and provide a safe space for students to explore and cultivate their potential.

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Batoul practices writing the singular and plural forms of words on the board in her classroom.

“I can calculate and compute numbers quickly now,” Batoul says, beaming with pride. “Math is my favorite subject.”

“She feels that the school is her second home. She trusts her teacher,” says Batoul’s mother, Nawal.

As the sole provider for six children, Nawal has made unimaginable choices and sacrifices to meet the family’s basic needs.

“I worry about my kids the most, mainly about educating them,” explains Nawal. “After we were forced to flee our home, we faced many obstacles.”

At that time, Batoul knew only a few letters and words, and numbers one through ten. But education was merely one of their concerns, as the family experienced homelessness.

“We were homeless during the winter season,” Nawal says. “People later on helped us by offering us the basic necessities such as food and blankets. We were offered shelter and a job.”

Luminos was among those who could help provide relief. As she passed by a classroom, Nawal noticed a gathering of parents and children. Nawal approached the group to learn more about why they were there and stayed to register her daughter to enroll in a Luminos classroom.

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

Batoul with her mother, Nawal.

Today, all Nawal’s children are in school, and Batoul’s teacher, Noha, is proud of the progress that she has made in the classroom.

“She became studious and diligent,” says Noha. “She has overcome all the obstacles.”

Such encouragement is fuel for Batoul’s future ambitions.

“The teacher always praises me and empowers me,” says Batoul. “I would like to continue to the university level and be a doctor.”

“I can calculate and compute numbers quickly now! Math is my favorite subject.”

Batoul, Luminos student in Lebanon

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Students in Batoul’s class practice placing nouns into categories.

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Lebanon program, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Chris Trinh

Adams: A Community Leader Embraces Teaching to Change Children’s Lives

Adams: A Community Leader Embraces Teaching to Change Children’s Lives

The classroom where Adams teaches in Mossipanin, a rural community in southern Ghana, is surrounded by small farms and rough roads.

Hours from Ghana’s second-largest city, Kumasi, most of Mossipanin’s residents are farmers. Each day, they walk to their plots of land to grow yams, corn, and beans to feed their families and sell at the market.

Adams came to Mossipanin years ago from a nearby town to complete his national service for the government. Adams was happy and, when his service finished, decided he would stay.

“I started helping the community as their secretary,” Adams says. As secretary, Adams keeps the community up to date on what is happening, takes notes for villagers who do not know how to read, and generally serves as a link between Mossipanin and the rest of the world. When Luminos began recruiting young adults to train as teachers for our new Ghana program, Mossipanin’s village chief immediately put Adams’ name forward.

Luminos signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana’s national Ministry of Education in the autumn of 2021 and officially launched our Ghana program serving 1,500 formerly out-of-school children in the Ashanti region where Mossipanin is located.

With the second highest number of primary-school-aged out-of-school children in Ghana and little support historically, Ashanti has a deep need for a catch-up education program to help children build foundational reading, writing, and math skills. Data shows that the majority of children entered Luminos’ program unable to read a single word.

In Adams’ classroom today, students eagerly join in learning songs and dances, reading and writing, and solving basic math equations.

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Adams has just as much fun as his students while leading short energizing activities like this one where students sing and dance.

“I love mathematics,” says Adams, noting that he always strives to involve his students in learning activities and the teaching process itself to help them internalize lessons. His enthusiasm is infectious: students from Adams’ class usually name math as their favorite subject!

“My favorite thing to learn is math,” says eight-year-old Bele, one of Adams’ students. “I feel happy when I study it. I especially like doing subtraction!”

Bele loves when Adams leads the class in an activity called Number Line where Adams draws a line on the floor in chalk, labeling it with numbers such as 1-10. Students practice addition and subtraction by taking steps forward and backward on the line.

Adams cares deeply about his students—Bele shares that Adams once made the long journey into town to buy sandals for him when he had none.

Bele, one of Adams' students, loves math.

Bele, one of Adams’ students, loves math.

“Teaching is my passion! I like teaching because I want to make a better future.”

Adams, Luminos teacher in Ghana

Adams has big dreams for his students and himself. He says, “I want my students to become a better person than I. Education is the key to success in everything. I would be proud seeing my kids having a better future; a better life through education.”

Adams’ love for learning extends beyond his classroom: he is pursuing a degree in Business Management in Education in Kumasi and one day hopes to get his master’s degree.

Today, Adams proudly declares, “Teaching is my passion! I like teaching because I want to make a better future.”

With teachers like Adams, the future for Ghana’s children is bright.

Luminos teacher Adams leads his students in warm up song-and-dance.

Adams (bottom left) leads his students in a song-and-dance activity to get them energized and ready to focus on the next lesson.

“I want my students to become a better person than I. Education is the key to success in everything. I would be proud seeing my kids having a better future; a better life through education.”

Adams, Luminos teacher in Ghana

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

To learn more about our Ghana program, click here.

Photo credit for this story: Mara Chan

Mignot: An Aspiring Doctor Learns to Read & Do Math

Mignot: An Aspiring Doctor Learns to Read & Do Math

Over 200 miles south from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, a Luminos classroom is buzzing with learning.

Out-of-school children who either never enrolled in school before or dropped out are taking their second chance at education and running with it.

Mignot, a ten-year-old girl, is eager to share what she loves most about the classroom.

“My favorite activity is singing songs because I learn about so many things when I sing the songs. And I never forget the songs, so I never forget what I have learned,” she says.

Luminos classrooms are joyful, safe environments where learning is interactive and engaging.

Our free, one-year catch-up program has been a transformative experience for Mignot, who dropped out of a government school a few years ago.

“She couldn’t read or write, but now she loves to read when she gets home,” beams Mignot’s mother, Alemitu.

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

Letters of the alphabet decorate the inside of Mignot’s classroom.

“Mignot is one of my students that really excelled. She is now one of the top students in this classroom. I am very proud of her.”

Derese, Luminos teacher in Ethiopia

“Mignot is one of my students that really excelled. She is now one of the top students in this classroom. I am very proud of her,” says her teacher, Derese. “The best thing about being a teacher is seeing my students improve. It is quite amazing how they transform within such a short period of time.”

He adds, “Educating girls is important for our country because they make up half of the population and can have a huge impact on the community.”

The Luminos program is transformative for vulnerable children like Mignot. Children learn to read, write, and do math, and over 90% of Luminos students continue their education after our program: advancing into government schools with their peers.

Setting up impactful classrooms like this is ambitious and necessary, especially in today’s global learning crisis — and occasionally met with skepticism.

“At first, I thought it was impossible. I just couldn’t accept it. I had so many questions about the program,” admits Mesfin Yacob, the government’s district-level Team Leader who provides support to all the classrooms in Mignot’s community. But after seeing Luminos students and teachers interact with enthusiasm and determination, and the dramatic learning gains that Luminos students make, Mesfin changed his mind.

“After I saw the results, I believed in the program,” he explains.

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

Mesfin Yacob, Sodo Zuria Woreda School Improvement and Supervision Directorate Team Leader.

“I have been able to see closely how the lessons are given and how the teachers are committed. The follow up by teachers is quite amazing. They do much better than the regular teachers. Even highly paid teachers do not show this level of commitment and output. The classrooms are lively and have a lot of learning resources,” says Mesfin.

He adds, “I am now a champion of the program.”

Mignot has every intention of continuing her education until she can reach her dreams.

“I would like to become a doctor,” she says, “so that I can be able to help people and save their lives.”

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu.

Mignot with her mother, Alemitu. When Alemitu describes Mignot’s progress through Luminos’ program, she says, “She [Mignot] couldn’t read or write, but now she loves to read when she gets home.”

Read this story and others from our various country programs in our 2021 Annual Report!

Photo credit for this story: Mekbib Tadesse

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).

Privacy Policy

We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.
Accept
Reject