Parents all over the world want the best for their children – good health, good education, good relationships, and good life prospects. When it boils down to it, and it doesn’t matter what country we’re in, or what our income levels is, we desire the same thing. We all want our children to live a joyful life.
The dream is the equivalent – whether it’s me projecting wonderful things into my children’s future as I kiss them to bed at night in suburban Boston, or whether it’s a grandmother like Lemitu striving to get her grandson, Tibebu, a second chance at an education in rural Ethiopia. And the reward is the equivalent – whether it’s me seeing the glint in my children’s eyes as they bound gleefully to and from their local school, or it’s Lemitu hearing Tibebu exclaim, “Everything I learn makes me happy!”
Essentially, making this dream come true is what the Luminos Fund is all about. We’re a catalyst for innovation and systems change in global education. Focused mostly on Sub-Saharan Africa, we identify points where education delivery is failing to meet the needs of all children, and we marshal resources and mobilize partners and communities to source, test, scale, and ultimately mainstream solutions that can unlock the light of learning in every child. We’re motivated by the unfortunate reality that there are over 250 million children worldwide who are either out of school, or in school but not learning. They too deserve to live a joyful life.
That’s what we’re doing in Ethiopia in partnership with Geneva Global, and more recently in Liberia, with our flagship initiative, Speed School. It is a 10-month accelerated program that helps children like Tibebu, who have missed out on learning because of poverty, conflict, or discrimination, become literate and numerate, and then rejoin their peers at the appropriate grade level in their local government schools.
We had the amazing privilege of being recognized as a Wise Award recipient this year. As I took the stage to accept the award it did not at all escape me that I was standing on the shoulders of all the parents and caregivers like Lemitu; learning facilitators; implementing partners; strategic partners like Geneva Global; and funding partners like Legatum, Dubai Cares, UBS Optimus, Supercell, Mulago and others; and our local and national government partners – all who contribute to ensure that children can experience joyful learning. We are so grateful for this commitment and support.
And that’s probably the greatest lesson we will carry with us, namely that it takes an entire ecosystem of thoughtful actors to transform learning opportunities for the good of all children. These actors need to be willing to collaborate, take risks, and respond to what they learn. Imagine the difference if education systems across the world become agile ecosystems of experimentation and execution, where innovative practices inform transformative policies, and systemic barriers to joyful learning are proactively and responsively dismantled.
That’s our dream for the work we will do in 2018 and beyond as we explore interventions in early childhood education, and literacy for underserved children and youth. For every child, everywhere, learning should make them happy, just like Tibebu.