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What is Speed School?
Mary, a 9-year-old student from Liberia in our program
Even prior to COVID-19, 59 million primary school aged children were out of school globally. Often excluded due to crisis, poverty, or discrimination, these children are at risk of being forgotten or ignored as they are assumed to be uneducable.
Speed School aims to change community and global mindsets so that it becomes unacceptable for any child to be denied an education. Luminos programs provide tangible evidence that _every_ child can learn, and work to deliver rich education in the poorest corners of the world.
Working in countries with the highest rates of out-of-school children, Speed Schools provide an accelerated learning program that condenses three years of basic education into just 10 months. Having caught up with their peers, children are able to re-enter mainstream education at 3rd or 4th grade and join the local village schools with children their own age.
Speed Schools focus on a tight timeframe that complements and works alongside government schools rather than establishing a parallel system. Working closely with the Ministry of Education of each country, the program is customized for each national context.
The program empowers teachers to teach in a radically new way compared with traditional local schools. Speed School classrooms blend child-centric pedagogy as well as activity-based learning methods to ensure children not only grasp the minimum learning competencies but also develop a positive experience towards learning.
By hiring young people from the local community to teach in classrooms, Speed Schools also have a positive impact on communities. Teachers have a minimum of a Grade 10 qualification. Speed School teachers undergo intensive training to enable them to teach using play-based education and other engaging learning techniques.
The long-term impact of the Speed School program is significant. Speed Schools have enabled 129,162 students to re-enter mainstream education, and University of Sussex evaluation has shown that graduates of the program complete primary school at twice the rate of their peers. Additionally, Luminos is continually scaling to reach more children and plans to expand our program to another country in early 2021.
The impact of the Speed School model has led the Ethiopian Ministry of Education to adopt the model as a national strategy to reach out-of-school children. We are training government teachers and government officials at all levels in the Speed School pedagogy so that, in future years, the Ministry of Education can implement the program independently. After a successful 2017-18 pilot, in which the government operated 32 Speed School classes to reach 960 students, the government expanded its initiative reaching thousands of children. The government continues to scale their adoption of our Speed School model (now in its third year since the pilot) and reach thousands of children, all while Luminos and its implementing partners support the government's efforts.
“I’ve evaluated the Luminos Fund’s programs in Ethiopia over a number of years and want to emphasize their impact educating out-of-school children as well as the great promise of the Ethiopian government to adopt the Luminos model in its own classrooms. Especially given Ethiopia’s focus on accelerated education through the COVID-19 pandemic and eventual recovery, Luminos’s programs and this type of NGO-government collaboration can serve as a model for resilient, transformative education during and after crises.”
– Dr. Kwame Akyeampong, Professor of International Education and Development at the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex (UK)
During COVID-19, Luminos pivoted our programs quickly to support our students' continued learning at home, as well as to provide relief to vulnerable families and communities. In Ethiopia, the Luminos team is working closely with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and other development partners to help the Ethiopian government implement its national education response plan for COVID-19, and is very heartened that the plan prioritizes accelerated education. In Liberia, our team has distributed learning materials to students for home-based learning and provided their families with handwashing soap, detergent, and bags of rice. While distributing supplies in remote communities, our team speaks with families to provide important health guidance.
UNESCO reports that the number of children out of school due to COVID-19 has surpassed 1 billion. With roughly 9 out of 10 children out of school globally, Luminos students, parents, and communities are not alone in the vast challenges we currently face. However, crises like COVID-19 impact vulnerable populations disproportionately and there will be a long road to recovery. Our work at Luminos has never been more important.