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Why New Projects?

Pencils and Dreams has been funding or partially funding school building projects since 2009.

Pencils and Dreams is now expanding our vision to support existing high-quality private schools with a multi-year track record of success.

Though government schools are sorely needed in rural areas, such as Loliondo, where we have funded or partially funded the five school building projects, Pencils and Dreams is shifting focus to two proven schools that are making a demonstrated impact on students, families and communities.

One of the schools (Orkeeswa) serves mainly Maasai students. The other (The School of St. Jude) supports students from 61 tribes, of which the Maasai and Warusha (Maasai born in Arusha) are one tribe comprising 15% of the school population. This percentage is roughly representative of the number of Maasai in the region.


These schools are staffed by highly trained and skilled Tanzanian educators and staff, thus affecting not only students and their families, but support families as well.

The students from both schools, either concurrently during their own schooling, during a gap year before or after graduating from university, are teaching in government schools as role models of effective instruction. To date, they have affected 25,000+ students in government schools.

In 2000, Tanzania adopted the UN Millennium Goals to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and gender equality. More specifically, Tanzania committed to free universal primary education (grades 1-6). This remains a national goal.

Even though education in government schools may be “free,” families often cannot afford the required school uniforms, occasional school fees, and registration for national exams.

In a typical government school, especially in rural areas:

- Students walk to school, sometimes up to 12+ miles.

- Students, usually girls, carry water to supply the school.

- A student’s only school uniform is often ragged and torn.

- Even though class size is meant to be 50:1, there are often up to 100 students in a classroom.

- Teachers frequently have just graduated from a government high school.

- Emphasis is on reading, writing, and math at basic levels.
- Learning is by memorization and drill.
- Textbooks are scarce, if existent.

- Students usually sit four to a desk.
- There are rarely extracurricular activities.

- Few students complete school or graduate.

- Students are not expected to do community service.


Pencils and Dreams has partnered with these two schools in which:

- Students have transportation to/from school, are close enough to walk, or live at school.

- Students eat balanced meals and the school has water.
- Uniforms are free.
- Teacher to student ratios are low.

- Teachers and staff are highly skilled and motivational.
- All academic resources (textbooks, computers, field trips) are provided.

- Emphasis is on a well-rounded education through interactive learning.

- Students learn in well-equipped, stimulating classrooms and labs.
- There are many options for extracurricular activities and athletics.
- High percentages of students graduate fully prepared for career and college.

- Students perform regular community service before and after graduation. 

Our New Projects:


Orkeeswa School, Founded 2008 by Peter Luis


Motto: “Anything is possible.”


“The team at the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania is so excited to establish a partnership with the Pencils and Dreams community! . . .We know we have found a community of supporters that values the indigenous culture of our students, while also recognizing the valuable impact our students are already having on their community through the power of education. . .You can trust that you will receive transparent, regular high-quality communications from us so you know exactly how your funds are being used and see that they have having a direct impact on our students.”

—Founder and Director of Operations, IEFT (Indigenous Education Fund of Tanzania), Orkeeswa School



Serving over 300 students and alumni in grades 6 -12 from four surrounding Maasai villages

Students selected from the poorest families

Strong support for girls’ education

Emphasis on project-based learning

In top 4% of schools in Tanzania, though students are selected from primary schools ranking in the bottom 15%

Students have contributed over 43,000 hours of community service during the last 10 years, 4000 + hours teaching in local government schools


Added six new classrooms
Added a Pre-Form One (Pre-Sixth Grade)

Added a Peer Counseling Program

Integrated Computer Tablet Technology into the classroom

Developed an Interdisciplinary Arts and Music Program

Met their average 26% annual revenue growth


In the Future
Will accept more students yearly

Will add more grades
Will refine programs, add partnerships, increase revenue and scholarships

Will seek funding for a sustainability plan

Bertha’s Story at Orkeeswa

Bertha was a 12-year old Maasai child, one of 34 children of her deceased father’s six wives. She lived in a mud hut in a small village and dreamed of going to school.

Her mother couldn’t afford a uniform or fees for the government school. Bertha’s mother told her that she would have to marry an older man and leave home.

Bertha learned she could receive a free secondary education at Orkeeswa and even go on to university. She applied and was accepted.

Bertha’s dream is coming true.
To learn more about:

 Orkeeswa School and IEFT (Indigenous Education Fund of Tanzania),

please visit


The School of St Jude, Founded 2002 by Gemma Sisia


School Motto: “Fighting Poverty Through Education.”

Student Motto: “Challenge Yourself.”


“We are so pleased to welcome Pencils and Dreams as a new partner in fundraising to support The School of St Jude in Arusha, Tanzania. Pencils and Dreams and St Jude share the goals of impact, sustainability, transparency, communication and cultural preservation.”

—Board President, American Friends of the School of St Jude



Serving over 1800 students in grades 1-12 from a 25-mile radius around Arusha

150 new students selected annually from several thousand applicants

Students chosen from the poorest families

Strong support for girls’ education

Emphasis on collaborative teaching and learning

Students in top 4% on national exams

One hundred current St Jude students teaching in 14 government schools affecting 40,000 students


Streamlined the selection process
Established a Future Fund to underwrite the long-term future of the school

Extended the perimeter for student eligibility from 40 to 100 kilometers

Built a secondary school campus for girls


In the Future

Expand the major school support base beyond Australia
Increase financial support for graduates’ year of community service, then university

Establish the St. Jude Centre of Excellence for primary and secondary education in Tanzania


“You watch these klds get off the bus [as they arrive at school. . .it makes you realise how totally life-changing St. Jude’s is to these kids. They have nothing, absolutely nothing, and they come here to get an education when they never would have had that opportunity in a million years otherwise. . . The wonderful thing about St. Jude’s, from [a donor’s] perspective is that you know your money is going to the children.”

—Australian supporter


Edgar’s Story at St Jude

Edgar lives in Arusha’s poorest area. In a government school, he might have been in a class with 100 students, no science teacher, no books.

At St Jude, Edgar can learn advanced sciences from trained teachers in small classes and labs.

At 17, Edgar has already won Tanzanian, African and international awards for his inventions: pavers, bricks, and roof tiles made from melted plastic bags. Edgar is turning refuse into resources.

Edgar now owns a company with 55 employees and is turning 1.2 million used plastic bags a year into resources.

As with other St Jude students, he will be one of his country’s leaders.

Edgar’s dream is coming true.

To learn more about The School of St. Jude, please visit: and (American Friends of the School of  St Jude). 

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