Ethiopia: Tsigereda’s Journey Into the Light of Learning
Set in the rolling green hills of southern Ethiopia, Tsigereda’s village is a patchwork quilt of carefully tended fields, forest, and traditional homes made of earth and wood.
Nestled between the fields and the forest is a Luminos classroom full of brightly colored posters, handmade clay letters, and songs. This is where Tsigereda began her first steps towards lifelong learning—but it wasn’t always this way.
Tsigereda had spent earlier years of her life out of school, helping raise younger relatives about 124 miles away in a bustling fishing town called Ziway.
“Since she spent a lot of time in Ziway, it was hard for her to get used to rural life,” says Tsigereda’s teacher, Konjit.
Help children like Tsigereda get a second chance at education
Journey to the Classroom
After the death of her parents, Tsigereda’s grandmother became her caregiver, but with extra children to feed in her household, Adnaech had no money left over to send Tsigereda to school. Instead, she sent Tsigereda to Ziway to look after their relatives’ children. Child labor in Ethiopia can often take innocuous forms like this: caring for the children of relatives, tending to livestock, or simply helping around the home. Yet all of these tasks keep children out of the classroom, pulling them off the path of learning.
Tsigereda with her grandmother Adnaech outside their home. (Photo: Mekbib Tadesse for the Luminos Fund)
This year, at age 11, Tsigereda’s uncle brought her back to her rural home village to be raised alongside her cousins. Shortly after Tsigereda’s homecoming, her grandmother learned about Luminos’ free catch-up education program for out-of-school children like Tsigereda and enrolled her.
“My favorite activity is learning by songs! Because the songs we sing have a lot of knowledge in them,” says Tsigereda earnestly. Songs in the Luminos program help students internalize lessons on a variety of topics from the sounds vowels make to the importance of learning. These activity-based lessons are core to the Luminos curriculum, allowing formerly out-of-school students to catch up on the content of three years of school in just 10 months.
Emersed in a joyful learning environment, Tsigereda was thriving—and it didn’t take long for her teacher and family to notice. “Tsigereda has shown a lot of change,” says her teacher, Konjit. “Now she enjoys learning and spending time with her friends. She loves to read and lead activities.” For Konjit, seeing students like Tsigereda improve is her favorite part of being a teacher. “I feel like all my work pays off when I see them read and write,” she says.
The walls of Tsigereda’s classroom are decorated with colorful posters from past lessons, and handmade teaching materials. (Photo: Mekbib Tadesse for the Luminos Fund)
Outside the classroom, Tsigereda takes a turn reading to her small group, supervised by teacher Konjit. (Photo: Mekbib Tadesse for the Luminos Fund)
In addition to her love of singing, Tsigereda proudly shares that her favorite subject is math: “I like working with numbers—it’s so much fun to add and subtract numbers!”
Tsigereda’s grandmother, Adnaech, observed Tsigereda’s rapid progress with pride saying, “They told me at her school that she is very clever—I have seen her improvement myself. She helps out others as well.” Adnaech is now very intentional about ensuring that Tsigereda has enough time for studying when she gets home. “I love to see her when she is studying, reading, writing, doing her homework at home,” Adnaech notes. “A person can only live a better life if they get an education—education is important for life.”
Tsigereda doing her homework after school. “Education is very important, because without education, you cannot get knowledge,” says Tsigereda. “Getting knowledge will broaden your mind, and you will be able to do good things for your community.” (Photo: Mekbib Tadesse for the Luminos Fund)
Looking to the Future
Tsigereda’s teacher, Konjit, goes one step further in describing the power of education: “Education is what brings you out of darkness and into the light.”
“Education is what brings you out of darkness and into the light.”
Konjit, Luminos teacher in Ethiopia
That light is shining in Tsigereda as she takes the next steps on her learning journey. After gaining the foundation skills in reading, writing, and math through Luminos’ program, Tsigereda recently transitioned into 5th grade at her local government school where her teachers report she’s at the top of her class.
When asked about the future, Tsigereda confidently replies that she wants to continue her education “until I get a degree from a big university.” After that, she is of two minds—on the one hand she would love to become a teacher like Konjit “because I want everyone to learn!” On the other hand, perhaps Tsigereda will go on to become a doctor “because I want to save the lives of people.”
Whatever path she chooses, Tsigereda’s heart for helping those around her is clear and her future is bright.
Walk with Tsigereda on her way home from school!
Learn more about Luminos’ work in Ethiopia here.