The New Times (Kigali)

10 January 2013

Rwanda: Mobile Libraries to Promote Reading Culture

The Ministry of Education is set to rollout the national mobile library to enhance reading culture among the populace.

The new culture, which is being co-advocated for with the Rwanda Education Board, comes after the distribution of reading materials for the community in different sectors that started this year.

Joyce Musabe, the deputy director general in the Rwanda Education Board, in an interview with The New Times, said they are signing contracts with publishers to deliver reading and other learning and teaching materials to schools through mobile libraries.

"We are planning to make the national launch of mobile libraries in Gicumbi district in the near future. Actually, for the community, we are now counting eight mobile libraries based in sectors of Nyaruguru, Gicumbi, Nyamagabe, Ngororero, Ngoma, Kayonza and Bugesera districts. Each mobile library is equipped with 1,200 books," she said.

Efforts to shape reading culture

The distribution of the materials is part of the Rwanda Reads (REB), an initiative launched in July last year to improve the reading culture that is still low in the country. REB has also reviewed and updated a strategic framework for enhancing reading among the populace.

"The strategic framework was designed to be validated by different stakeholders after different groups were formed to coordinate activities of the initiative. The groups have already met to elaborate tasks to achieve this year in the area of promoting reading culture among Rwandans," Musabe said.

The board has also elaborated the national reading standards, an important document to guide in monitoring and evaluation of reading. The school-based mentoring programme to support enhanced literacy instructions, have also been elaborated.

Months after the Kigali Public Library was opened, the turn up is still appalling. Now the management of the library is seeking to create more awareness and sensitisation of the public.

According to Marie Claire Mukashayaka, the teen and adult service librarian at the public library, Rwandans are yet to make resourceful use of the public library.

"We have seen few adults come to read at this library. Students make majority of the users of the library, I think it is because it is the first public library in the country," she said.

Access to the public library in Kacyiru, Gusabo district, is free, though other services such as using the Internet require subscription.

The poor reading culture has not only affected use of public library, but even bookshops. A salesperson in Librairie Ikirezi in Kigali, who did not want to be identified, told this newspaper that a few Rwandans have started purchasing reading materials-major buyers are institutions and ministries.

"We mostly sale books to foreigners here, but recently a few Rwandans have come to buy books and I think this will improve with time," the salesperson said.

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