The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: New Efforts to Promote a Reading Culture

The Ministry of Education and Rwanda Education Board (REB) recently launched an initiative dubbed "Rwanda Reads".

The campaign that aims at promoting the culture of reading through several public awareness programmes on the need to read, will aim at improving literacy through creating access to text books or reading materials.

Launching the campaign at Kigali Institute of Education recently, the Minister of Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, said that reading at a tender age was a strong foundation of children's early development and effectively contributes to one's intellect.

"Parents and teachers should lead or encourage children and students so that the young generation realizes the need to love reading," said Biruta.

He said reading will have a direct impact on enabling children or students to contribute towards the development of their communities and the country as a whole.

The minister observed that it will also improve on the quality of education and improve student's performance.

The event that brought together 300 players, specifically in the education sector, marked the beginning of a countrywide distribution of reading materials for various age groups.

Among other organizations involved in the initiative is the Education Development Centre Inc (EDC), a US based organization. The organization has embarked on various approaches to promote reading right from primary schools.

Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the organization, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Rwanda Education Board (REB), is promoting Literacy, Language and Learning (L3) in schools.

It is also modernizing and equipping a recording studio at REB to enable schools acquire recorded information to facilitate teaching and learning.

The 5-year project will see video production of modules for teachers as well as producing literacy and programs in English and Kinyarwanda.

The organization is also set to operate mobile libraries to further make access to text books easier. The programme is to be implemented in collaboration with the Peace Corps - a United States volunteer service organization.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the head of the organization, Said Yasin, said they had provided new technology to enable effective recording.

"We are providing all the technical support in making sure that we produce quality or modern education materials that will benefit all schools in the country," said Yasin.

The state-of-the-art audio and video recording equipments cost about $ 75,000. It has already started recording some programmes to be used. Yasin argues that the initiative was one of the modern measures of effective learning as learners easily learn when they hear and observe what their teachers are teaching.

Also in the organization's pipeline is the introduction of the mobile libraries, a project that is expected to further give the population access to text books.

It will be implemented in collaboration with the Peace Corps- a United States volunteer service organization with support from USAID.

The libraries will be set in communities identified to have the most vulnerable people so that in addition to enabling students from these communities to read, the old population is also expected to utilize the initiative.

EDC officials say that although mechanisms are being put in place, parents and teachers too have the responsibilities of encouraging students to adopt the culture of reading at an early age.

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