Mar 1, 2023 | Luminos Fund | The Gambia
In The Gambia, the Luminos Fund is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) to tackle one of the most pressing education issues today — how to ensure all children have equal access to joyful, foundational learning. Together, we have created and launched an accelerated learning program that brings transformative education to out-of-school children.
The launch of this program marks a major milestone in our partnership with MoBSE. By leveraging the power of partnership, we are reaching the most vulnerable out-of-school children in The Gambia and helping them to catch up to grade level, reintegrate into government schools, and prepare for lifelong learning.
A Timely and Mutually Beneficial Partnership
The Gambia, a small country in West Africa, is home to more than 70,000 out-of-school children. With a population of just over 2.5 million people, the number of out-of-school children presents significant challenges for the country’s efforts to achieve quality education for all. For the most marginalized children, the effects of missed education often extend over a lifetime. As disruptions to learning caused by the global pandemic and other crises increasingly threaten children’s futures, education systems must act now to help the most vulnerable children get back on the path of learning, and strengthen their capacity to adapt to emergent challenges.
The Constitution of The Republic of Gambia acknowledges that basic education is a right to which every child in the country is entitled. While the government has made commendable efforts to increase enrollment rates for primary-school-aged children and provide education services to children outside of the formal school system, ensuring the functional literacy and numeracy of out-of-school children continues to be a challenge.
In 2021, The Gambian government requested Luminos’ expertise and support to develop a new accelerated learning curriculum that provides foundational learning to children who have missed out on basic education in their early years. We are piloting the curriculum in 20 classrooms during the 2022-23 school year, serving children aged 8-14 who have either never enrolled in school, or dropped out two or more years ago. The pilot program is a timely and relevant solution to the out-of-school challenge and aligns with key priorities identified by MoBSE and relevant stakeholders. It is also an opportunity to evaluate the impact of the curriculum and further refine it before scaling the program to reach even more out-of-school children.
The program provides students with foundational literacy and numeracy skills, helping them to catch up on three years of learning in just one school year, then reintegrate into local government schools. We partner closely with community-based organizations to maximize impact and deliver the program using an intensive, child-centered, and activity-based learning approach.
In The Gambia, our classes are taught by community teachers — young adults recommended by the communities we serve, as well as by MoBSE’s Second Chance Programme and the Gambia National Teacher Training College.
Emily Joof, Associate Director of Programs at Luminos notes, “When we began this pilot, the majority of the students could not recognize their letters or their numbers, and as time has progressed, we have noticed marked improvement with children confidently recognizing letters, numbers, and even beginning to read short words. In terms of education, every single child’s success is something to be celebrated. The pilot will allow us to change the lives of each and every student who has enrolled.”
“The pilot will allow us to change the lives of each and every student who has enrolled.”
Emily Joof, Associate Director of Programs, The Luminos Fund
The Journey so Far and a Way Forward
The challenges facing global education systems today cannot be addressed by any one institution, organization, or individual alone. Through innovative partnerships, founded on mutual respect and trust, we can reverse the learning crisis and ensure support for the most marginalized children.
“The issue of education is not something that any one person or organization can address in silos. The experience that these [community] partners will get from this partnership [with Luminos] can scale up when they implement other programs that they have or when they partner with other organizations in the future.”
Mr. Momodou Jeng, Director of Curriculum Research Evaluation and Development Directorate, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, The Gambia
At Luminos, our model is powered by innovative partnerships at all levels of society. These partnerships have been integral to our program’s impact and success. In each country of operation, Luminos partners with ministries of education to strengthen education systems by sharing best practices, prioritizing shared goals, building capacity, advising on national education policies, and supporting research.
Since 2021, Luminos has been on this partnership journey with The Gambian government, working jointly to address the out-of-school challenge. Following regular working group discussions to develop the multiple phases of the accelerated learning curriculum, learning exchange visits to the Luminos program in Liberia, and stakeholder consultations with local community partners and research experts, we have developed a practical plan to support out-of-school primary-aged children in The Gambia to receive a second chance at education.
Our experience delivering the Luminos program across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East shows that to build sustainable and resilient education solutions, you must draw from and amplify local systems and resources. Through our partnerships with government and the communities that we serve, we are able to refine, implement, and scale effective accelerated learning programs that are locally driven and contextualized to align with national priorities and goals.
Luminos is grateful for the expertise, enthusiasm, and commitment of The Gambian government to work collaboratively in addressing the country’s out-of-school children challenge. The road ahead will be long, but our journey has just begun. Luminos looks forward to growing our partnership with MoBSE in the months ahead and bringing thousands of out-of-school children back on the path of learning. By unlocking the light of learning, children can reach their full potential and fulfill their aspirations. Together, we can transform education in The Gambia and take one step closer to our vision of a world where no child is denied an education.
“It’s a good thing to have Luminos coming on board to partner with us in this great endeavor of providing education to all the children living in The Gambia. We value the partnership, and we look forward to a stronger, strengthened relationship and collaboration so that we’ll be able to achieve our goals.”
Honorable Minister Claudiana A Cole, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education
Aug 23, 2022 | Luminos Fund | The Gambia
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.
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
Jun 29, 2022 | Luminos Fund | Awards & Recognition
This press release was originally published on the Jacobs Foundation website.
- The Luminos Fund, headquartered in the United States, recognized for catch-up education programs for out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa
- Three Best Practice Prize recipients will be awarded CHF 200,000 each and announced on 30 September at a ceremony taking place in Zurich
- All 10 finalists will convene for a co-creation event on 1 October, and are also eligible for follow-on funding of up to CHF 150,000
Zurich, June 29, 2022: The Luminos Fund has been named a top 10 finalist for the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes 2022, a set of three awards each worth CHF 200,000 ($208,000) that honor outstanding achievement and practice in advancing quality education.
Headquartered in the United States, Luminos Fund runs education programs for out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
The three recipients of this year’s Best Practice Prizes will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on 30 September 2022. For the first time, the 10 finalists will convene for a co-creation event, taking place on 1 October 2022. They will exchange knowledge and ideas on advancing learning, and will have the opportunity to partner with other shortlisted applicants to develop proposals for new projects. Two concepts will receive follow-on funding of up to CHF 150,000 ($156,000) each.
Awarded every other year, the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes recognize non-profits, businesses, and social ventures that are bringing forth innovative solutions to some of education’s biggest challenges.
Fabio Segura and Simon Sommer, co-CEOs of the Jacobs Foundation, said:
“We want to warmly congratulate the Luminos Fund on becoming a top 10 finalist for the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes 2022. These prizes were created to showcase the ground-breaking work that businesses, social ventures, and non-profits all around the world are doing to ensure children have access to quality education. There is not a moment to lose. By bringing to light the evidence of what works we can use it to implement solutions that can be tailored to learners’ diverse individual needs.
“In the age of COVID, it is also important to share ideas and evidence of what works on the ground to help shift policy, particularly as education systems adapt to a new and unfamiliar terrain. That is why we are launching this new follow-on collaboration funding of up to CHF 150,000. We look forward to bringing together all 10 Best Practice Prize finalists for our co-creation event, and we can’t wait to see what inspiring concepts they come up with together.”
Caitlin Baron, CEO of the Luminos Fund, said:
“We are honored to be among the top 10 finalists for the Best Practice Prizes awarded by the Jacobs Foundation. Like Jacobs Foundation, Luminos believes all children should be able to reach their potential–regardless of their background or income. The Foundation’s dedication to helping children reach their full potential and fulfill their aspirations has been inspirational and catalytic in the sector, and we look forward to learning from other finalists.
“We hope to use this unique platform to share our learnings, and help even more out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world experience fun, joyful learning.”
The Luminos Fund
The Luminos Fund provides education programs for out-of-school children aged 8-14 in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, helping them to catch up on three years of learning in just one school year, and reintegrate into local government schools. Many live in very challenging circumstances, and are the first in their family to receive an education. Each year, over 90% of Luminos students advance to mainstream schools, and at least 75% remain in formal education after 12 months.
With a focus on learning-through-play and assessment-led pedagogy, Luminos strives to make learning a joyful experience, to equip students with a positive outlook on education. The program is delivered through community-based organisation partners whose capabilities Luminos helps build, support, and oversee. Classrooms are taught by high-potential local young adults who Luminos trains to teach, thereby fuelling local education systems with much-needed trained resources.
To date, Luminos has supported more than 152,000 children across Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, The Gambia, and Lebanon, and plans to reach an additional 200,000 students by 2024. They work with governments, advising on curriculum development, strategies, and national education policy. This enables Luminos to drive forward lasting, systemic change and to ensure that out-of-school children remain a priority for national education planning.
If the Luminos Fund is named a recipient of one of the 2022 Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes, they plan to invest the winning funds in supporting new programs in Ghana and expanding their operations in The Gambia. They will also launch a multimedia toolkit to reach even more out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes
Applications for the Best Practice Prizes 2022 opened on 6 January and closed on 10 February 2022. Recipients must demonstrate outstanding achievement in advancing learning and education, and embrace variability in learning. Their projects should draw on scientific evidence, use a clear results framework, and must be sustainable, scalable, and financially viable. Finally, they must build on strong leadership and partner networks.
In memory of its founder, the entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs, who passed away in 2008, the Jacobs Foundation presents two awards every other year for exceptional achievements in research and practice in the field of child and youth development and learning. The Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize rewards scientific work that is highly relevant to society, and the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prizes honor exceptional commitment and innovative solutions of institutions or individuals.
Notes to editors:
The Jacobs Foundation is active worldwide in promoting child and youth development and learning. The Foundation was founded in Zurich by entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs in 1989. As part of its Strategy 2030, it has committed 500 million Swiss francs to advance evidence-based ideas for learning, to support schools in offering quality education, and to transform education ecosystems around the world. https://jacobsfoundation.org/en/
Alexandra Guentzer, Chief Communications Officer
Tel. + 41 (0) 79 821 74 29
The Luminos Fund
Michael Stulman, Director of Communications
Tel: + 1 667 289 7534