25 July 2012

Rwanda Launches Reading Initiative

A new initiative referred to as "Rwanda Reads" aimed at developing a culture of reading in Rwanda was launched and is set to dismantle literacy barriers and develop a thriving and sustainable culture of reading. The initiative will utilize a variety of strategies, including public awareness campaigns, improved literacy instructions, and increased availability of reading materials for all ages of the Rwandan population

The initiative was launched by The Ministry of Education through Rwanda Education Board (REB) on July 19, 2012 at the Kigali Institute of Education conference Hall on Thursday.

The state minster for primary and secondary education, Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, said Rwanda Reads is an initiative that will enable Rwandans to achieve our collective vision for the future of our country.

"We must all be empowered to contribute to the development of our country as described in Vision 2020. But achieving this goal cannot happen by reading a book here and a website there. We need, all of us, to develop the habit of reading every day for life-long learning and pleasure" he said.

In order to transform reading attitudes and habits and develop a reading culture in Rwanda , beside establishing the coordination of ongoing literacy programs in the country, the following innovative activities are in our future plan:

To increase the number of new instructional reading material . Today in our schools we count over 2 million of reading materials in Kinyarwanda and English. The number of these materials will be increased because of 20% of the textbooks budget set aside every year for reading materials. We will also increase the number of reading materials by getting donations from abroad and from development partners as well. We have also built new partneship with publishers to produce more kinyarwanda and english reading materials

To increase the number of librairies in schools and set libraries in the community: 80 moving libraries will be set up at the level of sectors in the districts. These libraries will be moving around from one sector to another to facilitate the access of the reading materials for the community use. Some schools do not have libraries; this initiative will help in increasing a number of librairies in schools

Other activities in the initiative will be- To train teachers for literacy instruction : We shall equip primary teachers with new skills and new methodology to enable them to teach reading to the students in a best manner. With the help of new studio in place at Rwanda Education Board, we already started to produce audio materials which will be used in schools as a model on how to teach reading

To elaborate national reading standards with the aim to serve the schools as a new tool that will assess the level of the students in reading. We shall be able to identify a student who can read well ( by determining how many words can be read per minute by a child who read well)

"We will get into the districts and organize reading competitions which will help to create interest and motivation in the children and they will help to instill the culture of reading in the young aged people and to revise the curriculum with increased focus on reading and writing. The process is undergoing and we hope to have a new curriculum emphasizing on the new methodologies of teaching reading well" said Dr. Dr Joyce Musabe, the Deputy Director General, Rwanda Education Board.

Gahiji Innocent is the chief political columnist for News of rwanda.He grew up in Kampala,Uganda before moving to Rwanda.His column is syndicated to newspapers around the country. He has written columns from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel and South Africa. Gahiji , who has a B.A. degree in English from the University of Illinois, has been a Poynter Media Fellow at Yale University,

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