Rwanda has joined the world to celebrate Literacy International day with a call to establish more ‘home and community libraries to drive the country into a knowledge-based economy
The global literacy challenge month, or reading month, also coincided with its local launch and runs through September. It was launched at GS Munini, Nyaruguru district, Southern Province on September 8.
According to the Ministry of Education, home and community libraries fit in this year’s literacy day theme dubbed “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces.” The call to promote literacy finds a 2015 survey that found that only 9% of Rwandan parents reported having ever read a story to their child.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) indicates that 2% of Rwandan households have home libraries and access to books.
Besides more needed efforts to increase reading culture in Rwanda, the
Litteracy rate is improving steadily in Rwanda. In 1991, only 58% of the population older than 15 were literate. The number increased to 73% in 2018.
“The country aims to become a knowledge-based economy. Therefore, no child should be left behind. We must teach them how to read and write, at a very early age,” Nelson Mbarushimana, Director-General of Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) said.
“At least, by primary three. Every child should be able to read. We have various adult literacy programs across the country. Please, take these opportunities, teach yourself, challenge yourself,” he added.
To improve the reading culture, the government and stakeholders have established several country-wide reading projects, for example through the monthly community work — Umuganda.
Other projects include Save the Children Rwanda and Umuhuza Organization, under Mureke Dusome, a USAID-funded project.
Patrick Musafiri, in charge of education at Save The Children International pointed out that there are inadequate facilities for reading infrastructures including community libraries and books.
“Increasing the number of books in communities and schools is a work in progress. From schools, children should get other places where they can sit and read,” Musafiri said.