The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Local Book Publisher Wins Global Literacy Award

A Rwandan book publisher, Drakkar Ltd, has been recognised for its efforts towards improving reading and writing in primary schools.

The award was handed over in the United States during celebrations to mark the International Literacy Day.

According to Lydie Hakizimana, Managing Director of Drakkar Ltd, the firm was bestowed with the award owing to its competitiveness and hard work.

"It was well received; we got it thanks to our competitiveness. Competitors were supposed to have convincing and innovative ideas and so we did," she told The New Times on Monday.

She noted that her firm's agenda is to develop the reading culture especially in Kinyarwanda, adding that building literacy is critical if the country is to achieve the Vision 2020.

"Reading skills build the foundation for all future learning, and it is proven that people who can read enjoy better health, make more money, and serve their communities more effectively," Hakizimana observed.

She added: "Ultimately, literacy is also the cornerstone of Agaciro. It opens our souls, our minds and our hearts to knowledge to transform our lives, our communities and our country for the best. By participating, we each become leaders working towards Rwanda's progress."

The event attracted a total of 450 applicants but only 32 were selected.

"It was therefore our pleasure to be selected among the minority," she said, thanking Rwanda Education Board for facilitating the firm to take part in the event.

Drakkar Ltd is currently organising a 20-month reading campaign that starts in October this year.

The 'Reading and Writing Capacity in Primary Grades' programme aims at promoting Kinyarwanda language and the culture of reading in general.

However, according to Hakizimana, the country still faces some hurdles towards realising a reading culture.

She lamented that Rwandans generally do not like reading blaming this on parents who consider it insignificant for their children to read at home as well as in school.

Commenting on the award, the head of Curriculum Development at Rwanda Education Board (REB), Dr. Joyce Musabe, noted: "A nation can't develop without its human capital being well-equipped, and reading is one of the ways to achieve it."

The Ministry of Education and REB recently launched the Rwanda Reads Initiative - a four-year programme aimed at reading creating in the country. This one-of-a-kind initiative aims to increase the literacy rate to 100 per cent by the year 2020.

As an all-encompassing educational effort, Rwanda Reads provides new materials for schools, innovative teacher training, mobile libraries, improved reading curriculum, and a school mentorship programme.

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