“I have wanted to climb Kilimanjaro since I saw it in the distance on a backpacking trip 12 years ago. This is the year! I also believe education is a key ingredient to people having more opportunities in life, especially in underdeveloped or developing countries. So, I thought why not combine these two things and attempt to raise some money for the Luminos Fund through my Kilimanjaro climb.”
On September 18, Ruth Wynne achieved her goal of 12 years and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa standing 5,895 meters tall. Her campaign raised $5,115, exceeding her initial goal of $3,000, and will help bring 34 students in Ethiopia back to school. We, at Luminos, are incredibly proud of Ruth and her impressive feat, and grateful that she chose to dedicate her hike to support students receiving a second chance education through our programs. We had the chance to chat with Ruth about her experience climbing Kilimanjaro, and why she believes education is the key to unlocking prosperity around the world.
Luminos: Can you walk me through your final ascent?
Ruth: We were woken at 2am, breakfast at 2:30, and we left camp at 3am in pitch dark apart from the most amazing sky in terms of the number of stars and the visibility. You’re up so high. You’re above cloud level. It’s amazing, and every night was like that. So, we had two and a half hours of uphill, I guess, almost moonlit terrain. I hadn’t done night hiking in the past, and I found that quite tough. All you see is the tiny distance in front of you that your head torch lights up. And my body obviously decided I should be sleeping, and I actually nodded off a couple times as I walked, though I quickly jerked awake. I scared myself a little because obviously I was walking and there were rocks and I didn’t want to twist my ankle and have that impede me from the summit. But luckily, I didn’t trip. It’s quite strange how your body reacts: as soon as I could see light on the horizon, it’s like somebody flipped a switch and suddenly I didn’t feel sleepy again until 4pm that evening.
We had to cross a glacier, on the real peak itself. At that point, you’re tired, so the glacier was hard. You’re slipping a little bit. It’s packed ice up to your knees and then there’s little pathways through. You don’t want to slip with the ice being so packed and hard. And then we reached the peak itself, Uhuru peak. It was amazing because we had it to ourselves. We were worried about whether we would have to stand in line for a photo at the summit, but then it was just us. You feel like you’re on top of the world, and you’re getting to have this moment with just a few people which is quite phenomenal.
Luminos: How does it feel to have completed this goal you’ve held for so long
Ruth: It was a relief when we summitted. Although it’s not people’s fault if they don’t summit due to altitude, it would have been quite disappointing. I got very lucky and the altitude didn’t seem to bother me. When I have been up high before, it has been tougher, so I felt not just relief but gratitude that I had made it. I felt gratitude also for the opportunity to do the climb: that I had the funds, that I could take the time off work, that I have a colleague and friend who was willing to go with me because it wouldn’t have been the same experience hiking solo.
Luminos: Do you have any advice for anyone planning on climbing Kilimanjaro?
Ruth: If you haven’t night hiked before, try and do it a couple of times because that was what I found to be mentally tough. The other thing I would say was yes, [cardio] fitness helped, but strong legs would have helped more. You can stop and get your breath back, but you can’t build up your legs when you’re already there. So, squats, dead lifts, lunges, all that fun stuff. I would have loved to be more fit than I was, but I was stronger than I thought I would be. I thought back to one of the instructors from my gym class who said, “don’t get too caught up in the cardio side of things and forget about the strength side.” It really did prove true.
Luminos: Why did you select Luminos as a charity to support?
Ruth: I chose Luminos because education, I think, is one of key components to achieving prosperity and exiting poverty. It’s such a good base and starting point and allows people to move forward and open more doors regardless of the country or how developed it is, but I think that’s especially true in under-developed countries. The difference between literacy and non-literacy, and how that affects your earning power, etc. And with a better education potentially comes a better salary or means to provide which has that ripple effect through generations. I think it really is something that is very hard to measure where that actually ends. Also, my mom’s a teacher, my sister’s a teacher, my aunt’s a teacher, friends are teachers, they’re a constant in my life! So, I suppose I did grow up in a household with a respect for education which has filtered through a little bit as well.
Luminos: You significantly surpassed your fundraising goal. What does it mean to you to receive this support from your friends and family?
Ruth: Firstly, a massive thank you to all who did support me, it was really humbling. As I said, I come from a teacher family and also know a lot of teachers. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of support, but this definitely far outweighs any expectation. And I’m just really grateful and touched that people took the time to click on the link to actually go and do it. Different friends shared the fundraiser because it touched a chord with them. It wasn’t just supporting me; Luminos touched a chord in them. It’s interesting to see people think about the education space. I believe it’s a key to helping people move past the poverty line, so maybe it made people think a little bit or have a brief discussion with a few friends and who knows where those discussions could go.
Luminos: Anything else you would like to share about your experience?
Ruth: If anyone is thinking about Kilimanjaro, it’s doable. It’s so doable. It’s not technical climbing, you can do it in less than the 8 days if you’re worried about leave from work. It’s one big hike as opposed to mountaineering, so if anyone does want to put it on the bucket list but is slightly afraid, don’t be. Go do it! It’s a fantastic experience!
We’re thrilled to be recognized once again by HundrED.org as one of the top 100 global innovations in education. Shortly after we received the news, HundrED featured us in an article on their website. You can view the original article here.
Speed School Students Complete School At Twice The Rate of Government-Run Institutions
Children on Speed School’s programme complete elementary school at twice the rate of their government school peers, a new report by the University of Sussex has discovered! The results show how the approach taken by Luminos, creator of Speed School, is proving more effective in tackling the widespread issue of children dropping out of school and not receiving a quality education in rural Ethiopia.
Speed School has been so successful that they are now also in operation in Liberia, where they are called Second Chance. The program in Liberia is the same as in Ethiopia, with a few adaptations to suit the local context – a key ingredient in making sure that an innovation still works when it is scaled to a new location, after all, no two cultures or countries are exactly the same!
Luminos credits its success to its holistic pedagogy. Children receive individualized instruction, are continually assessed to make sure they are all are on track and aren’t falling behind, their lessons are activity-based and are on multiple subject areas, and they learn the fundamentals of how to learn, a skill set that sets children up for a life of learning. Children in these programmes also read four times as much as those in government-run schools.
The success of Luminos’ programmes aren’t just down to their contemporary pedagogical approach, they take this one step further by engaging whole communities in their work. Along with programmes like Speed Schools and Second Chance that make sure children can re-enter education and receive a better education, Luminos also actively engages parents through self-help groups and community mobilization, and they build the capacity of the community by getting teachers and school leaders up to speed. Together, this multi-stakeholder approach helps to make sure no child is left behind.
So what’s next for Luminos? There’s no slowing down, as Caitlin Baron, CEO at Luminos, told us their next goal is, “to bring Second Chance to another 140,000 children across five critical countries in Africa.”
Want to learn more about Speed School and Luminos’ impactful work? Head to their project page for more information.
There is nothing like a child’s joy when they discover that all the world’s knowledge is available to them because they can read and write. It unlocks the light within and gives them a sense of freedom and opportunity. It compels them to want to learn all they can about our planet – its places, peoples, possibilities, and even problems. It inspires them to keep on learning – whenever they can and for as long as they can – as they strive to make a meaningful contribution to society throughout their lives.
We call this experience “joyful learning”, and we believe it’s something every child deserves. The unfortunate reality is that there are still millions of children worldwide who do not get a chance to learn at all. This is an injustice and an inequality that needs to be addressed. That’s why Luminos exists. We’re here for children like Mary in Liberia and Ahmed in Lebanon, who have faced barriers related to poverty, conflict, and discrimination that have delayed their opportunity to learn.
With your incredible support, however, Luminos has been able to step into the gap and provide a second chance to children like Mary and Ahmed. We are thrilled to be able to work with our dedicated network of implementing partners, committed investors, and thoughtful experts, who have helped bring joyful learning opportunities to life for these children in Ethiopia, Liberia, and Lebanon. Over the next three years, with your help, we will not only expand opportunities in these countries, but also bring joyful learning to children in other locations as well.
The recognition for our programs over the last year has been deeply humbling. We are honored and delighted to have received the WISE Award from the Qatar Foundation and the HundrED Global Innovations Award. It is a tribute to the hard work our children and their learning facilitators have put into their learning. We are so very proud of them!
In the coming years, we want to play a role in improving the information available to education decision-makers, encouraging more collaborative action, facilitating experimentation, and supporting evidence-based systems change as we work together to make joyful learning available to all children.
We look forward to your partnership as we progress in this critical journey. Thanks for your continuing support!
CEO, the Luminos Fund
In partnership with the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Le Monde has featured Luminos’ Speed School program–a 2017 WISE Award Winner–in a recent article exploring how NGOs can support national education systems. Author Hélène Seingier argues that the “rigidity and lack of resources” in Ministries of Education limit their ability to reach the most marginalized children, and that programs such as Speed School have the flexibility to fill this need. The Speed School program takes a fresh approach to learning and pedagogy that reaches the boys and girls who have slipped through the cracks. The full article is available below or on Le Monde’s website.
Quand les ONG dessinent un système éducatif parallèle
Diverses organisations ont mis en place des méthodes adaptées aux enfants à la scolarité en pointillé. Dans les camps de réfugiés ou ailleurs.Et si on apprenait l’alphabet avec les mains, en modelant des A et des B dans de l’argile ? Et si c’étaient les « grands » qui transmettaient ce qu’ils ont compris aux plus jeunes ? Avec ces techniques, en Ethiopie, les Speed schools ont déjà permis à 100 000 enfants non scolarisés de rattraper, en un an, l’équivalent de trois années scolaires. Cela a valu à la fondation d’être finaliste des Wise Awards 2017.
Comme des centaines de projets d’associations, l’initiative sort des sentiers battus de la pédagogie et réconcilie avec l’école des garçons et filles qui semblaient perdus pour la cause. « Dans le monde, 264 millions d’enfants ne sont pas scolarisés, notamment les filles, les enfants entrés trop tôt dans le monde du travail et ceux qui sont affectés par un conflit », rappelle Morgan Strecker, spécialiste de l’éducation à l’Unicef. Rigides et manquant de moyens, les systèmes étatiques peinent à accéder à ces publics – et encore plus à adapter l’école à leurs besoins. L’Unicef soutient ainsi un projet mené par Caritas au Liban, en Palestine et bientôt au Bangladesh avec les réfugiés du Myanmar. A travers des jeux simples, comme fabriquer une voiture avec des bouteilles vides, The Essence of Learning aide à recréer un lien avec l’enfant traumatisé, lui donne confiance en lui et le remet sur la voie de l’apprentissage.
Livret d’apprentissage modulable
C’est le même souci de l’adaptation qui guide les enseignants des Escuelas Nuevas (« écoles nouvelles ») de Vicky Colbert, lauréate du prix Wise 2013, cette fois dans la Colombie rurale. Nombre d’enfants y manquent plusieurs semaines de classe chaque année pour aider leur famille lors des récoltes. « Le système éducatif rigide expulse ces élèves et les fait redoubler ! Nous, on pense que c’est au système de s’adapter », affirme Carlita Arboleda, d’Escuela Nueva. Avec des livrets d’apprentissage modulables, en élaborant le savoir au lieu de le recevoir du professeur, les enfants assimilent les connaissances à leur propre rythme. La sociologue qui a créé cette méthode il y a quarante ans visait les écoles de campagne où plusieurs niveaux cohabitent dans la même classe. Mais l’absentéisme, le redoublement et le décrochage ont tellement chuté que le gouvernement a étendu l’expérience à toute la Colombie. Plus de 15 pays, de la Zambie au Timor-Oriental, ont depuis adopté le modèle.
Innovantes dans leur pédagogie, ces structures mènent aussi un travail de fourmi sur le terrain pour changer l’état d’esprit des familles. « En Inde, pour les communautés, une fille de 10 ans est trop âgée pour aller à l’école, elle doit être mariée », rappelle Safeena Husain. Elle-même élevée dans le patriarcat et la pauvreté, elle a créé Educate Girls (« éduquer les filles »), qui, en dix ans, a remis 200 000 fillettes sur le chemin de l’école. Le secret ? Une armée de 10 000 volontaires qui rencontrent les familles en faisant du porte-à-porte puis offrent des cours de rattrapage aux nouvelles élèves.
De l’Ethiopie à l’Inde, tous ces acteurs disent l’importance de travailler avec les gouvernements, notamment pour influencer peu à peu le système. « Il y a un manque de moyens des Etats mais parfois aussi de volonté, car éduquer intelligemment ces enfants pauvres n’est pas leur priorité », souligne Frédéric Boisset, président de l’association SEED, qui soutient des associations d’éducation alternative dans les pays en développement. L’une d’elles est Jiwar (« voisinage »), qui agit dans les quartiers défavorisés de Rabat ou de Salé, au Maroc. Elle s’installe dans les locaux des écoles et propose l’équivalent de classes maternelles gratuites, inexistantes dans le public. Sur les 3 500 enfants passés par ces maternelles solidaires, 90 % sont toujours scolarisés. Surtout, les activités sont axées sur l’ouverture au monde et la tolérance ; une façon de contrer l’influence des islamistes, très présents dans le préscolaire.
« Après avoir longtemps construit des écoles, nous sommes entrés dans les contenus des enseignements », précise ainsi Joseph Nzaly, de World Vision Sénégal. Il assure que le nombre d’élèves sachant lire en fin de cycle a quadruplé, et que la composante religieuse n’a jamais posé problème. Mais l’Afrique de l’Ouest est le terrain du chercheur Louis Audet-Gosselin, du Centre d’expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux et la radicalisation, et lui dit avoir vu des élèves musulmans se convertir au protestantisme évangélique. « Cela fait partie de la foi évangélique de “sauver” des gens par des conversions. Et certains Etats estiment qu’un certain niveau de prosélytisme est acceptable tant que l’ONG met en place des actions éducatives valables. »
Plus à l’est, au Kenya, le risque soulevé n’est pas celui du prosélytisme mais de la marchandisation. Les écoles privées de Bridge s’y attirent les critiques. Financées par des bailleurs aussi prestigieux que la Banque mondiale, elles sont accusées de faire payer chèrement aux familles un enseignement dont la qualité n’est pas évaluée. Preuves à l’appui, plus de 170 organisations du monde entier ont lancé un appel à la vigilance en août dernier. Avec ses millions de « clients » potentiels et tous ces jeunes esprits encore malléables, l’éducation parallèle attise bien des convoitises.
Cet article fait partie d’un dossier réalisé en partenariat avec le World Innovation Summit for Education.
Par HÉLÈNE SEINGIER