News Release

Elder Andersen Highlights the Cotonou, Benin “Succeed in School” Program at Arizona State University Education Night

Apprentices learn reading, writing, and math skills at Church’s after-school learning program

On 29 February 2024, Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Sister Kathy Andersen, participated in the Arizona State University Family Education Night. Elder and Sister Andersen were joined by ASU President Michael M. Crow.

When Elder Andersen was asked why education is important to Church members, he shared the story of some young men in Cotonou, Benin, who used the Church’s Succeed in School program to learn French and expand their employment opportunities.  Some of these young men are now preparing to serve missions.  Elder Andersen showed the students a video highlighting the men’s accomplishments.  See video here.

Their story began years earlier when Darmande Legbanon joined the Church.  He had a desire to read the Book of Mormon and learn more about the Church, but was limited because he only spoke Fon, the traditional language in Benin.  French is the official language of Benin, and what is spoken at Church.

Through his Institute teacher, Lionel Missigbeto, he was able to learn French and was eventually able to serve a French speaking mission.  Darmande is now the Bishop of the Fidjrosse Ward in the Cococodji Benin Stake, and Lionel is the Stake President.  Bishop Legbanon has also built a successful welding business in Cotonou with 10-12 apprentices working under his tutelage.

He recognized that his apprentices were limited, as he was early in his life, by their inability to speak French.  He encouraged his apprentices to attend the stake’s Succeed in School program to learn how to speak French.

Succeed in School is an after-school program that provides resources and guided experiences to help youth ages 11-18 progress in their education and become disciples of Jesus Christ. Youth who participate have opportunities to develop skills that help them remain and succeed in school, increase their hope and faith in Jesus Christ, and belong and contribute to a learning community of Saints. The program is run by volunteers from the stake and encourages the participation of youth who are not members of the Church.

President Missigbeto, who had taught Bishop Legbanon French as an institute student, now taught his welding apprentices French and the gospel through the Succeed in School program.  Attending Succeed in School classes gave the apprentices the opportunity to learn reading, writing, and math skills that helped them as welders, they learned to speak French, and they gained testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This has provided them with the resources to improve their work skills and expand their employment opportunities.  Some of the young men joined the Church and many of them are preparing to serve missions.

Elder Andersen, speaking to the students in Arizona, noted the desire of these young men to improve their circumstances through education and said, “When you live in such a wonderful culture that we live in where education is so available, please, please don’t treat it as something not of value because it’s so available.”

The video included a quote from President Russell M. Nelson: “Education is very important. I consider it a religious responsibility. The glory of God is intelligence. … Make no mistake about it: Your potential is divine.”

To learn more about the Church’s Succeed in School program please visit the website at:

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