100,000 dreams


Pencils of Promise
August 19, 2019

Access to a quality education is a human right. Period.

Photo description: Three small primary students walk in front of a school in Ghana.
Photo credit: Nick Onken

Children around the world deserve the right to be in a safe, healthy and supportive school environment that can lay the foundation for their growth and future success. Imagine a classroom without a desk to write on or a chair to sit in. Imagine all six grades of an elementary school and hundreds of students being crammed into two classrooms. Imagine a school with a partially collapsed roof. Imagine not having a bathroom to use at school or access to clean water to drink. Imagine having to miss school during every menstrual cycle because of the fear of facing ridicule at school and/or not having access to sanitary products. Imagine a circumstance in which you felt safer, more protected and better set up for success outside of school. Do remember what it felt like to dream in school? Do you remember as a child thinking you could do anything you wanted? Every single child in the world deserves that same opportunity — a place to dream and grow into the potential that lays ahead.

Photo description: Two primary students smile as they play a game on the floor of a classroom in Guatemala.
Photo credit: Nick Onken

After a little more than 10 years of serving communities around the world with the dedicated mission of providing children with an opportunity to thrive, Pencils of Promise (PoP) has built 512 schools that are currently serving more than 100,000 students. Our team pays close attention to every single detail and goes far beyond the physical infrastructure of a building. Elementary school is a place for exploration, storytelling, collaboration, friendship and laughter and we give teachers and school administration the necessary tools to create the best environment possible. Teachers are provided one-on-one coaching sessions throughout the school year to reinforce skills and strategies taught during Teacher Support workshops. Schools are provided with both paper books and e-books to give students access to hundreds of age-appropriate and culturally relevant titles. Students are empowered to lead clubs that reinforce healthy behaviors taught through our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program. Our approach to providing a quality education is holistic and touches on every aspect of the students’ experience.

Early this year, our team set out on routine community visits to learn about the experiences students were having in PoP supported schools. When a 5th grade student in Laos was asked how their life would be different because of education, they responded, “When I have an education, I can help others who don’t have the opportunity to learn.” Another 5th grade student in Ghana added, “[Education] is the process of learning skills, obtaining knowledge and establishing values that will help me make my community better.” This same student went on to say that she found PoP’s education on menstrual hygiene the most useful part of the WASH program and added, “I was happy to learn that I should not feel shy when menstruating.”

Photo description: A student in Laos smiles as he jumps in the air outside in front of the school
Photo credit: Timmy Shivers

PoP is taking the first steps necessary to unlock the full potential of students in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos with access to a safe and welcoming environment to learn and grow. We are providing a space where they can look forward to being every day. We’re offering an opportunity and space for students to dream and imagine the great things they’ll accomplish. We are changing the world through the power of education.