The Pen and Paper Campaign is a not for profit initiative by Open the Gate.


^ Pen And Paper Campaign Poster – season 2013-2014




Started in 2012 The Pen And Paper Campaign is  a cooperative development project dedicated to supporting the development of educational system in the Gambia.

It invites tourists travelling to the Gambia to bring stationery in their luggage and drop it off in designated Collection Points in partner hotels and restaurants.

Donations are then distributed directly to pupils in nursery and basic schools in rural area of the Gambia.



1. To provide stationery to both teachers and children, in order to help them improve educational standards


2. To inform tourists about local education and raise their awareness of the real needs of the local population


3. To enable tourists to direct their goodwill in a positive and appropriate manner in order to enhance the relationship between tourists and local people to their mutual benefit




The educational and developmental needs of the local population are often hidden behind the touristic environment in which most tourists find themselves, particularly where all-inclusive package tours isolate visitors from the local community.

This often leads to well-meaning but misguided behaviour on the part of foreign tourists who have been observed handing out money, sweets, cigarettes or other inappropriate gifts to local people, particularly children and youngsters.

Such behaviour fosters a financial and psychological dependency on foreigners that is neither educative nor productive and contributes to suppressing a spirit of local initiative, self-reliance and autonomy which should be encouraged.

In turn, many tourists report being disturbed by confronting a ‘begging culture’ which often impedes any genuine contact between them and local people and impairs their holiday experience.

Tourists are often left with feelings of ‘guilt’ and not knowing whether, what or how to contribute to the needs of local people.

Besides, the wide lack of basic stationery for pupils and teachers in the Gambia – exercise books, pens, pencils, files, folders- makes delivering a teaching programme a difficult task, hinders creativity and productivity, and ultimately contributes to pupil truancy.


The Pen & Paper Campaign provides both local people and tourists a direct, practical and appropriate way of addressing these issues.

The Pen & Paper Campaign is an open practical, campaigning network between local schools and educational structures and hotels and touristic enterprises.

^ Pen And Paper Campaign Poster – season 2012-2013



The Pen & Paper Campaign has found fertile ground in the Gambia where tourism is well-established and growing.

Its success in the Gambia to date shows the possibilities for it to be replicated in other African and developing countries.



• MAY 2012: The Pen & Paper Campaign project is written and planned

• NOV. 2012: The team arrives in the Gambia

• DEC. 2012: 10 Collection Boxes are set up in hotels and restaurants

• JAN. – APR. 2013: First donations and first collections

• 6th FEB. 2013: First Donation Ceremony in nursery school in Brufut, Kombo

• 19th APR. 2013: Second Donation Ceremony in Saint Michael’s Lower Basic School, Njongon

• APR. – MAY 2013: 4 more Collection Points in hotels and bars join the Campaign

• DEC. 2013: Gambian Tourism Board, NCAC and Thomas Cook become partners of the campaign and 3 more Collection Points join the Campaign



PenAndPaper presentation 101213 (PDF)