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A Dialogue: Long-term Benefits of Second Chance Education

A Dialogue: Long-term Benefits of Second Chance Education

On June 21, 2018, we had the pleasure of hosting Kwame Akyeampong in a dialogue about second chance education courtesy of our friends at the Legatum Institute. Professor Akyeampong is lead researcher on a longitudinal study, conducted by the University of Sussex Centre for Independent Education, regarding the Luminos Second Chance program in Ethiopia. He is also an expert in education and learning for out-of-school children and the evaluation of programs that support them.

The Second Chance program (Speed School in Ethiopia) is focused on primary school-aged out-of-school children living in remote areas of Ethiopia who have never attended school or who have dropped out. The Program provides children opportunity to be reintegrated into government schools after 10 months of accelerated learning instruction. It aims to improve individual learning by seeking not only faster learning but also deeper and more effective learning.

The longitudinal study tracked the progress of 1,875 Ethiopian children between 2011 and 2017. A third were out-of-school children who completed Luminos’ 10-month program in 2011 and transitioned to neighborhood government schools. This test group was matched and compared against 1,250 students from Government Schools.

Professor Akyeampong noted that the longitudinal study is proof that this program benefits children well into their future lives. The study revealed that even six years after completing the 10-month program, Luminos children do better than their government school counterparts.

They are happier, persist in school longer, outperform by more than 10 percentage points in English and Math, complete primary education at twice the rate, and have higher aspirations for further education and employment. Access the Luminos Summary of Sussex Longitudinal Study Findings here.

According to Professor Akyeampong, these long-term benefits are the result of the design of the Luminos program which supports smaller class sizes, nearly four times more reading hours than government schools, and a play-based, child-centered pedagogy and learning system that teaches learners how to learn. The Second Chance classes are supported by a parent engagement and self-help program that gets parents involved in their children’s learning as well as activities that mobilize the community to contribute to positive learning outcomes.

Professor Akeampong made the argument that not only was this longitudinal study one of the few conducted on programs for out-of-school children, but the results also provide an important evidence base that can be built upon to inspire best practice-driven reform and investment for children who are denied a chance to learn due to poverty, discrimination, and conflict.

The Luminos Fund would like to thank the Legatum Institute and all our friends and guests who shared this important moment with us and Professor Akyeampong. We look forward to expanding the circle of dialogue about the importance of Second Chance education for children at the margins of society. In the meantime, please take a minute to review the Luminos Summary of Sussex Longitudinal Study Findings.

Speed School Program Recognized With Two Innovation Awards

Speed School Program Recognized With Two Innovation Awards

The Program’s Comprehensive Model Has Helped Over 100,000 Children Receive a Second Chance at an Education

November 13, 2017 — The Speed School program was recognized by two organizations for the innovative way in which it provides children with a second chance at formal education. Speed School was one of the six winners of the 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards, which recognizes creative approaches to crucial education challenges. Speed School was also selected as a Global 100 winner by HundrED, an organization that seeks and shares inspiring innovations in K12 education worldwide.

The Speed School accelerated learning model delivers the first three years of a national curriculum in just 10 months to out-of-school children aged 9 to 14. With classrooms limited to 25 students, children learn through child-centered, activity-based pedagogy. The learning and skills fostered through Speed School prepares children to join government schools at the 4th-grade level. The program also works with mothers to address the root causes that prevent children from completing their schooling, such as poverty.

Speed School is an initiative of the Luminos Fund, a private donor philanthropic fund dedicated to ensuring children denied the chance to learn by conflict, poverty, or discrimination get access to quality education. The Luminos Fund engages Geneva Global to design and run Speed Schools in various countries.

“We really take second chances for granted,” said Caitlin Baron, Luminos Fund CEO. “In the developing world, people don’t have that luxury. The power of the Speed Schools’ accelerated learning program is that it provides that second chance.”

In Ethiopia, more than 120,000 children have been enrolled in over 5,000 Speed School classrooms since 2011. Over 95 percent of those children transitioned into government schools of whom 83 percent are still pursuing their formal studies.

The University of Sussex—which has been independently evaluating the program since 2011—found that after just one year of intensive study, Speed School graduates generally score above their peers who have studied for three years in their local public schools.

This finding, along with the program’s impact and scalability, was among the successes highlighted by HundrED, which noted that “the innovative pedagogical approach of Speed Schools supports children to make rapid progress and enables them not just catch up with their government school peers but actually overtake them when they return to mainstream education.”

Based on these proven results, government officials at all levels have been exploring how to replicate Speed School’s pedagogy and results within the formal education system.

“The Speed School model proves that with modest resources, kids in the most marginalized settings can receive an education that gives them solid prospects for a fulfilling future,” said Dr. Joshua Muskin, Geneva Global’s Senior Director of Programs and Education Team Leader.

The Speed School program was inspired from a collaboration between Strømme FoundationLegatum Foundation, and Geneva Global that ran in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso from 2007-2009.

About the Luminos Fund

The Luminos Fund is dedicated to creating education innovations to unlock the light within every child. Around the world, there are 250 million children who never manage to learn how to read and write — 120 million of them don’t even get the chance to try as they are denied the opportunity to go to school. Beginning in the Sahel in Africa, through the refugee crises in the Middle East, and into South Asia, we work to ensure children denied the chance to learn by poverty, conflict, or discrimination get access to the quality education they deserve.

By developing and scaling innovative approaches to learning for the most vulnerable children, we’re able to work at the margins of the education system, in a space where we can create real change. As we scale pioneering, new approaches to bring quality education to children in the greatest need, we work together with local governments to drive systems-level change.

About Geneva Global

Geneva Global is a philanthropic consulting company that fuses art and science to deliver performance philanthropy for its clients. The company provides a full range of advice and services to help individuals, foundations, corporations, and nonprofits in their philanthropy and social change initiatives. On behalf of its clients, Geneva Global’s work has directly benefited more than 100 million people through 2,000 projects in over 100 countries, and influenced over $1 billion in giving. Geneva Global runs Speed School programs for a number of clients, including the Luminos Fund.

Speed School Ethiopia Featured in Le Monde

Speed School Ethiopia Featured in Le Monde

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 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 conversionsEt 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.


2017 WISE Award Winner: The Speed School Program

2017 WISE Award Winner: The Speed School Program

The WISE Awards Recognizes Projects for Innovative Solutions to Urgent Education Challenges

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), an international initiative for innovation and collaboration in education, today announced the Luminos Fund’s Speed School project as a winner of its 2017 WISE Awards, which recognize and promote innovative education initiatives around the world.

Based in Boston, the Speed School project is an intensive, child-centered program run by the Luminos Fund to enable out-of-school children to catch up to their grade level at government schools.

It is among six WISE Awards winners this year, selected by a panel of experts from a group of 15 finalists. Other winners include Colorado-based PhET Interactive Simulations, the engineering college 42 (with a presence in France and California), Lights to Learn (Spain/Latin America), The Learner Guide Program (Tanzania/UK) and Ubongo Edutainment (Tanzania).

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, remarked: “From rural Tanzania and South America to Silicon Valley and Paris, our six WISE Awards winners reflect the wide range of what can be achieved in advancing education ­–whatever the social or geographical context– when there is a creative solution and a determination to see it through. We look forward to showcasing our winners and runners-up at the WISE Summit in Doha in November, and to supporting their progress as they grow.”

Caitlin Baron, CEO of the Luminos Fund, which runs the Speed School, said of winning the award: “This award will be invaluable in advancing our mission as the R&D lab for innovative ways to reach the last 10 percent of children around the world who are still denied the chance to go to school.”

To be selected, the winning projects were required to show success and innovation, demonstrating a transformative impact on individuals, communities and society. They must be financially stable, have a clear development plan and be scalable and replicable. The judging process as well as on-site due diligence was overseen by independent education consultants from Parthenon-EY.

The six WISE Awards winners as well as the runners-up will be celebrated at the eighth World Innovation Summit for Education, November 14-16, 2017, in Doha, Qatar. The application process for the 2018 WISE Awards will be launched at this year’s summit.

In addition to publicity and networking opportunities, each winning project receives $20,000 (US).

For further information, visit

Learning through Play

Learning through Play

Brightly colored posters, hand-drawn by young students, adorn the classroom walls. Desks are clustered together throughout the classroom; the teacher weaves her way between students while they mold the letters of the alphabet from clay. A group of children crowd around a table, creating a song using the three letter words they just learned, while another group across the room is busy making flashcards to review their vocabulary. Laughter and voices drift in through the window as children outside jump rope to practice their multiplication tables

This scene is taking place in classrooms in rural Ethiopia where the traditional chalk-and-talk style of teaching is being replaced with something new. Those hand-drawn posters are hung from the mud walls and thatched roof of a one-room classroom; the children writing songs are learning English, Amharic, and a third local language. This is Speed School.

A typical Speed School classroom in Ethiopia. Students sit in groups so they can interact with their peers, and colorful posters on the walls and hung from the ceiling help make Speed School a warm, engaging learning environment.

The Speed School classroom promotes child-centric learning where the students dictate the speed at which the curriculum is covered. Teachers undergo training to present core concepts through a variety of play- and activity-based methods, including singing, role playing, crafts and visuals made from locally available materials, and the Think-Pair-Share approach in which students engage in peer-to-peer learning. The repetition of concepts is designed to reinforce learning and to reach children with different learning styles; to that effect, the teacher cannot move ahead with the class until all children have grasped the core concepts. This underpins one of the key principles of the model and of our thinking: every child can learn.

Angel, age 9, throws a ball to her classmate as they practice counting up by 5’s. Play is an essential part of learning, and the Speed School program brings playful learning to remote communities in Liberia.

The Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex, our evaluation partner in Ethiopia, describes Speed School classrooms as a place where children not only become functionally literate and numerate but also “learn how to learn” which instills in our children a quest for lifelong learning. In a 2016 review of the Speed School pedagogy, evaluators wrote, “The Speed School approach…questions assumptions prevalent amongst people all over the world about who can and who cannot learn. The teachers…seemed convinced that all the children could and would learn what was necessary to succeed within the curriculum. It is clear that the Speed School Program in its training had been successful in getting teachers and students to re-conceptualize who can learn and why.”

In 2017, Dr. Susan Rauchwerk, Associate Professor at Lesley University, authored a full analysis of the elements of play in the Speed School pedagogy and their positive impact on students’ learning, drawing from a broader program evaluation conducted by the University of Sussex. Published in the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, the article states, “In Speed Schools, play is a platform for communication between teachers and students where teachers actively draw upon students’ life experiences and promote an environment where students feel safe and supported, ultimately leading to positive student outcomes. Play provides a pedagogical framework that shapes both the social structure and content delivery within the Speed School classroom. Classrooms are interactive, and learning is a process rather than an outcome.” The online version of Dr. Rauchwerk’s article is available on the IJLTER website, and a PDF version is available on our website.The Speed School program demonstrates how the integration of play- and activity-based learning into severely under-resourced contexts helps children develop both cognitive and non-cognitive skills that prepare them for lifelong learning. According to one of our young, female students:

“We were learning like playing and the things we learned as play have remained inside us like heritage.”

The Luminos Fund strives to unlock the light in every child through education. Here Speed School students in Liberia practice counting using rocks collected from the surrounding area.

Luminos Fund Selected as a 2017 WISE Awards Finalist

Luminos Fund Selected as a 2017 WISE Awards Finalist


OPENPediactrics, PhET Interactive Simulations and the Speed School Project are among 15 finalists chosen by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) for their innovative and impactful approaches to today’s most urgent education challenges

June 27, 2017 – PhET Interactive Simulations by the University of Colorado Boulder, the Speed School Project by the Luminos Fund and OPENPediatrics in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospitalhave been selected as three of the 15 finalist projects for the 2017 WISE Awards.

Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote innovative projects from around the world that are addressing global educational challenges.

OPENPediactrics uses medical simulation technology to help people learn how to safely provide life support to critically ill children. Run in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, the platform receives over 70,000 visitors per month and has been accessed from every country and territory worldwide.

PhET Interactive Simulations works to advance science and math literacy worldwide through innovative interactive simulations that support more effective and engaging education for free. The initiative was started in 2002 by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman and is based within University of Colorado Boulder. PhET simulations are used over 80 million times per year.

The Luminos Fund’s Speed School enables out-of-school children to catch up to their grade level in government schools through an intensive, child-centered pedagogy for teaching basic literacy and numeracy. Since the mid-2000s, the model has been implemented in four African countries. It benefits 100,000 out-of-school children aged 9-14 years.

Dr. Jeffrey Burns, Program Co-Director, OPENPediatrics, said: “We are humbled and honored to be named a WISE Award finalist. OPENPediatrics is the world’s first, and only, knowledge exchange platform connecting doctors and nurses to bring the best care possible to critically ill children no matter where they live. This is one valuable idea worth sharing in our complicated world, and as a WISE Award finalist, OPENPediatrics has taken a big leap in further reaching out to help children in need.”

Caitlin Baron, CEO, the Luminos Fund, said: “The Luminos Fund and our partner Geneva Global are delighted that the Speed School program has been selected as a finalist for the WISE Awards. It is our core belief that the combination of patient philanthropy, committed parents and communities, dedicated learning facilitators, creative pedagogy, and the power of play, can help unlock the light in every child.”

Dr. Kathy Perkins, Director, PhET Interactive Simulations, University of Colorado Boulder, said: “”The PhET Interactive Simulations team at University of Colorado Boulder is honored to be selected as a Finalist for the WISE Awards for our work to advance science and math education. In our vision, advancing STEM learning and literacy is key to addressing many of today’s global challenges. We are proud to see our simulations benefiting so many teachers and learners today. And we are excited for the opportunity that this recognition by WISE affords to amplify awareness of our resources and bring them to more communities worldwide.”

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said: “We congratulate the Speed School Project, OPENPediactrics and PhET Interactive Simulations for making it to the finalist stage. The 2017 WISE Awards finalist projects have built effective, tested solutions to global educational challenges. Whether ensuring access to fundamental primary education or preparing young people for the 21st century workplace, each project is already transforming lives, and provides an inspirational model for other communities to adopt. This is vital to our mission at WISE, dedicated to empowerment and collaboration.”

The 15 projects come from nine countries. They were evaluated by a pre-Jury of international experts and the due diligence was conducted by independent education consultants from Parthenon-EY.

The finalists were evaluated according to strict criteria. They must be successful, innovative education projects that have already demonstrated a transformative impact on individuals, communities, and society. They must be financially stable, have a clear development plan and be scalable and replicable.

The six WISE Awards winning projects will be announced in September 2017 and celebrated at the eighth World Innovation Summit for Education, November 14-16, 2017, in Doha, Qatar. In addition to publicity and networking opportunities, each project receives $20,000 (US).

For further information, visit

About the WISE Awards:
Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote six successful innovative projects that are addressing global educational challenges. Since 2009, WISE has received more than over 3,000 applications from over 150 countries. To date, 48 projects from a wide variety of sectors and locations have won the WISE Awards, for their innovation, positive contribution and their potential for scalability and adaptability. These projects represent a growing resource of expertise and sound education practice. Year by year, WISE is building a community of education innovators which offers a fertile environment for ground-breaking collaboration. Today the WISE Awards network comprises pioneering projects that are helping bring real change to societies and communities.

The six winning projects will be announced in September 2017. The winners will attend the eighth World Innovation Summit for Education, November 14-16, 2017, in Doha, Qatar.

Discover the 2017 WISE Awards

About Parthenon EY:
Parthenon-EY is a strategy consultancy, committed to bringing unconventional yet pragmatic thinking together with our clients’ smarts to deliver actionable strategies for real impact in today’s complex business landscape. The Parthenon-EY Education practice has an explicit mission and vision to be the leading strategy advisor to the global education industry. To achieve this, the company invests significantly in dedicated management and team resources so that its global experience extends across public sector and not-for-profit education providers, foundations, for-profit companies and service providers, and investors. Parthenon-EY has delivered more than 1,000 education sector engagements across over 95 countries in the last 10 years. Parthenon-EY is a member of the global network of EY Firms.

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)
The World Innovation Summit for Education was established by Qatar Foundation in 2009 under the leadership of its Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative, evidence-based thinking, debate, and purposeful action in education.  Through the biennial summit, collaborative research and a range of on-going programs, WISE is a global reference in new approaches to education.  WISE 2017 will take place in Doha on November 14-16, 2017 under the theme: “Co-Exist, Co-Create: Learning to Live and Work Together”.

For further information about WISE, visit