Rwanda: Competition to Boost Kinyarwanda Proficiency Among the Youth

22 November 2021

Different partners in the education sector are currently undertaking an inaugural nationwide Kinyarwanda reading competition for students, aimed at among other things, promoting the reading and writing for local language content, as well as detecting talent for authorship among the youngsters.

Organised by the Rwanda Writers' Federation (RWF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Rwanda Basic Education Board (RBEB) and the Pan African Movement Rwanda (PAM-Rwanda), the contest is bringing together up to 1000 primary and secondary schools from 20 districts of the country.

The competition among students from various schools started earlier this month at grass root levels, and this week it will be going to the district level, before proceeding to the provincial level, after which the winners will be declared in an event that will take place at the Kigali Convention Centre on December 18.

Speaking to The New Times, Richard Hategekimana, the Chairman of RWF said they initiated the competition as a way of trying to deal with the gaps among the youth in regard to the use of Kinyarwanda, where for instance, a good number of students failed their Kinyarwanda national examinations.

"We need to mobilise them to have a culture of reading and writing in Kinyarwanda," he said.

He highlighted that the contest can be used as a means of detecting authorship talent among the young people, in order to have writers who are going to publish more books in the local language.

"If you go to various libraries and institutions today, you will find very few Kinyarwanda books there. We want to use such a competition to detect talent among Rwandan students, and see if we can get some who are interested in writing, so that they can be trained in this regard," he said.

Anathalie Nyirandagijimana, an official in charge of Teacher Training College Curricular at RBEB who is also the Ministry of Education's focal person in the competition told this newspaper that the competition not only motivates students to learn Kinyarwanda and speak it fluently, but it also instills Rwandan values in them.

"The books that were chosen for this reading competition have good content in regard to our values of integrity, loving to work, among others," she said.

Sheja Gwiza, a P5 student at Blooming Buds, a school that won the sector level competition in Kacyiru - Kigali said:"

"This competition is helping children like me to learn more about Kinyarwanda, to understand it better. It also helps me to learn to speak out loud, and be confident."

His counterparts Janna Sangwa and Cyusa Mugisha from the same school (P5 students) who were also triumphant at the sector level noted that the competition gives them confidence for public speaking, and even learning to speak more languages.

Colleta Nikuze a Kinyarwanda teacher in Kigali said that learning Kinyarwanda and the values that accompany the language prepares children and makes them realise "that they are Rwandans" so that they will be better people with worth for the society.

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