Changing lives: One pencil at a time...

Written by: Evan Lewis | Published:
Taking the lead: Evan Lewis launches Share A Pencil Day with students modelling the specially produced pencils that are available to mark the event

In a bid to make education more accessible to the 124 million children around the world not in school, Evan Lewis is introducing Share A Pencil Day. He explains more about the initiative, taking place on May 17, and the resources available for schools

I run a company which specialises in recycled promotional items such as pens and pencils made from recycled CD cases.

In September 2014, we purchased a pencil-making machine which, at first, could make about two million pencils each year.

Through some small alterations and machine improvements, capacity soon reached around three million pencils a year. This made us ask ourselves: “What can we do with the spare one million pencils the machine now produces each year?”

This is how the idea behind the “giving enterprise” Hope was born. Through Hope, we have now launched Share A Pencil Day.

There’s the obvious link between pencils and education, which we all know is the single most important element to help lift a child and their family out of poverty.

While in the UK we argue over whether each student should have access to a tablet or whether last year’s text books need replacing, there are millions of children across the world who do not even have their own pencil and others who do not have a teacher or a classroom. Our aim is to raise awareness and funds for children who are less fortunate than our own.

Hope’s mission is to provide education for a brighter future. Across the globe there are millions of children who dream of the chance to attend school but simply do not have that opportunity.

Natural disasters, war and conflict and extreme poverty are the main reasons. We term Hope as a giving enterprise which has been set up with the sole purpose of raising awareness and funds for children who do not have access to education. By supporting projects worldwide through the sale of Hope pencils we want to give children that chance to shine bright. On a mission-by-mission basis we will select a different cause, but the emphasis will always be on improving education for those for whom it is out of reach.

What is the first mission?

Our first mission is Hope’s Bright Futures campaign in partnership with Plan International UK, supporting the charity’s education projects worldwide.

This is where the first Share A Pencil Day comes in. On May 17, we are encouraging teachers to ask pupils to share a pencil for a single lesson, to experience the difficulty of learning without the basic classroom materials for just one day. The aim is to encourage our school children to understand the daily struggle faced by millions just to receive the education they deserve.

Schools and teachers will have the option to download resources, including lesson plans, short films and posters, to support learning on the day.

Teachers have the chance to use special Hope Share a Pencil Day pencils for the day, though that is entirely optional. Proceeds from the special Share a Pencil Day pencils will go towards Hope’s Bright Futures campaign.

Where do the proceeds go?

Our first mission is to raise £10,000 exclusively for education projects run by Plan International UK. The money raised will support a variety of projects. Current examples of Plan’s projects include transforming the lives of girls in Kamuli, Uganda, helping children in Pakistan get an education, and training female teachers in Sierra Leone.

Hope’s missions will always be in close conjunction with a small number of vetted, trusted, delivery charities, all of which have close relationships with the governments, other non-governmental organisations and communities in the locations they are operating.

Our decision-making process involved identifying a real need then working with the partner who can advise and guarantee that the maximum funds will reach the area in need so that the maximum support is realised. Sustainability is also key.

It is highly likely that sometime in the near future we will work on UK-based projects. At the moment schools are our main focus of attention in terms of spreading the word in the UK about the importance of educating every child around the world.

Why sign up?

Share a Pencil Day is a fun, interactive way for schools and children in the UK to get involved in helping those children across the world who do not have full access to education. Not only does this make children aware of the difficulties faced by others, but teachers will also have to work around the constraints this creates.

Share A Pencil Day is most suited to children in years 5 to 10, but anyone can take part. Once teachers have registered their interest you can access the range of resources to help plan your Share a Pencil Day.

  • Evan Lewis is the founder of giving enterprise Hope, which is introducing Share A Pencil Day.

Further information

The first ever Share a Pencil Day takes place on May 17. Ask your pupils to share a pencil for a single lesson to experience what learning is really like for many children across the globe. You can register at www.shareapencilday.co.uk. Follow also on Twitter @hopepencils and via the hashtags #ShareAPencilDay and #PencilSelfie.


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