Our Leadership Colleges

Village Schools International has a dual mission: to enable those in villages who would otherwise never get to go to school to have the opportunity to get an education; and to send missionaries into villages where missionaries have never lived before to share the Gospel. When we began this ministry in 2005, we started with a goal of opening 56 schools in 20 years in villages throughout Tanzania. The first school was built in 70 days, and that launched a movement that today involves people from over 200 villages partnering together to build schools for their children. We are thankful to be a part of something God has made to be far bigger than anything we could have ever dared imagine. He has brought together a huge team, most of them from small villages in Tanzania, but also many individuals, churches and foundations from North America, Europe and Australia to partner together with Him to bring all of this to fruition.

Village Schools Tanzania (VST) continues to grow not only numerically in terms of the number of schools opened, students enrolled, missionaries sent to serve in our schools, and regions where we have ministry, but we also continue to grow in terms of the nature of our work. Our latest, and perhaps biggest project to date, is the creation of a leadership college.

The Rationale for the Creation of Leadership Colleges

There are quite a few colleges and universities in Tanzania, and indeed many of those who have graduated from our VST schools are already off pursuing higher education. But we have become increasingly convinced that creating leadership colleges in various parts of the country is absolutely essential if VST is to fully reach its potential and do all that we believe God has called us to do:

We, and everyone else trying to run secondary schools in Tanzania, need school principals and teacher trainers who are trained to manage and administer schools and to provide on-going training for teachers. Currently we are forced in our schools to do what all other schools in Tanzania have to do: choose the best teacher to be the principal of the school, knowing full well that being able to teach well doesn’t necessarily mean being able to lead well. While people look to our schools as providing excellent quality education (because of our national exam results), we believe we can do even better if we have trained leaders, particularly if they are trained from a Christian perspective.

We, and anyone else trying to build schools, need project managers who are trained to mobilize communities and to oversee the building projects. We have succeeded these past fourteen years by choosing people who showed an intense desire to serve in VST, providing them with a week of training in project management and then having our leaders invest an immense amount of time and energy working with them on an on-going basis. We cannot argue with success (the communities have been mobilized and the schools have been built), but nonetheless we truly believe that a future with hundreds of schools all across Tanzania cannot realistically be obtained without a college to train project managers.

We, and every other Christian school in Tanzania, need school chaplains who are trained to lead our chapel services, teach our Bible Knowledge classes, provide counseling and be able to initiate activities in our schools designed to give students opportunities to accept Christ and to grow in their faith. While there are colleges in Tanzania to train pastors, that kind of training is very different from the kind of training one needs to serve as a school chaplain. Currently we rely upon people with good hearts and a desire to serve the Lord, but they have no formal training. We are thankful for the ministry our missionaries do, but we know that we cannot reach our full potential unless we train a large number of Tanzanian chaplains to serve in our schools.

In brief, our primary purpose for creating these leadership colleges is to enable VST to better fulfill its mission: to build more and more schools, to lead those schools in a better way once they are built, to share the Gospel and to help our students grow spiritually. Our VST leaders are committed to creating these colleges, our students have been enthusiastic about volunteering to help build them, and in villages partnering with VST to build secondary schools, people have watched the campuses being built with a great degree of pride and excitement.

We also sense a great opportunity. We see a future in which we will have excellent institutions to train principals for secondary schools, and we will have the opportunity to train them all from a Christian perspective! Certainly many will serve with VST and accomplish good with us, but we are also excited about sending out leaders to do ministry in schools all over Tanzania. If we train project managers, they will enable us to continue VST’s rapid expansion, but we also see our graduates landing jobs of great importance in government and in private enterprise—helping the country and also being a good witness for the Lord as they serve both competently and ethically. The greatest benefit of training chaplains will of course accrue to VST and we will be thankful for the impact our graduates will have on our own students. But we also know that our chaplains will be able to serve in church-run schools throughout the country, providing us with a great opportunity to serve the larger Christian community as it seeks to impact Tanzanian society.

Our progress to date

Things are already far beyond the “dream” stage.

The village of Igoda donated 55 acres of largely wooded land in an excellent location, and the campus of our first leadership college is already well under construction. We have completed eight lecture halls, the library and computer center, the administration building, and we have housing for the professors and dorms to house up to nearly 400 students. We opened the college in 2015 and our first graduates are already serving throughout Tanzania and a group of them are working with people in Malawi, Zambia and Uganda to expand the work of Village Schools into those countries.

A long-time friend and supporter of Village Schools donated 35 acres of land in the village of Msanda in the far western region of Rukwa and work is already under way on the construction of a second leadership college. Our plan is to complete enough buildings so that we can begin classes there in 2021.