About BooksOpen

While in rural Tanzania doing Nick’s dissertation work in 2008, we (Nick Jess) would have nightly conversations about education. Here’s our outsider’s view of the situation:

* Public schools are awful. There are very few public funds for education in Tanzania, and very little of that flows to rural districts. Kids learn by rote and almost never go beyond elementary school; and they rarely learn skills to help them on the farms or to find employment.

* Teachers are paid terribly, so there is little personal incentive to improve upon teaching. Furthermore, many teachers are demoralized by being assigned to posts far from home.

* To move on to secondary school, students have to pass exams in English after having gone through a primary curriculum taught in Swahili.

By and large, to get a truly decent primary education in Tanzania, a child needs to attend private school. After a run-around, we discovered that private schools are few and far between and cost a relative fortune. But some are run well. Many are boarding facilities with matrons and patrons that care for the children as their own. We have seen some of these places, and they feel safe and inspiring.

BooksOpen is dedicated to supporting education in Tanzania by opening doors to such institutions for disadvantaged students and developing infrastructure to help students excel.  We send children to school who would otherwise be likely to end up on the streets or in dangerous, unhealthy professions later in life.


After the long search, we arranged to send two young boys from Rufiji, Shukuru and Mfaume, to a boarding school in Moshi, Tanzania, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. In the summer of 2008, BooksOpen enrolled an 8 year-old girl named Evasia in Primary 1 at the same school. Finally, BooksOpen arranged to send a blind orphan named Pendo to the Irente School for the Blind in Lushoto, Tanzania. He has since transferred to a special school for the blind in Dar es Salaam. When resources allow, we will locate and arrange to send additional orphans from rural and urban areas to boarding school.

We will develop BooksOpen.net as a multimedia site about the students and education in Africa. We will post stories, photos, videos, and updates about the children, their schools, and developments in education on the continent.

Further down the line, we hope to collaborate with the schools to send supplies and technical support vital to providing modern, quality education.  BooksOpen is dedicated to developing curricula that will prepare students to face growing challenges such as environmental change and socio-economic and political change and instability.

Also, we have our sights set on building transition pre-schools and follow-up placement and monitoring programs for orphaned children in Tanzania.  After consulting with teachers and public officials, it has become clear to us that orphans seldom possess the social skills and motivation to remain in school – a reality that limits the effectiveness of education projects targeting these children.  BooksOpen hopes to build two-year transition schools that provide surrogate parental support and that emphasize skill-building specific to the needs of young, orphaned children so as to improve the chances that they continue their educations upon leaving.  Additionally, this initiative will require resources for a program committed to placing orphans in foster homes that support their continued enrollment through primary and secondary school, and follow-up monitoring and counseling.  But, first things first…

Please join us!  It will be exciting to watch the students progress through the years, and to build relationships among supporters, the schools, and students.

Nick & Jess