The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion and partners have launched a new and free internet- based platform that will enhance the government’s strategic approach to improve early childhood development and education.
The platform dubbed “Itetero.rw” was launched this October 20, to serve low-end mobile devices, avail diversified content, data-free access for Airtel subscribers, offline smartphone access, and the capacity to facilitate interactive engagement through surveys.
The platform builds on activities of an existing popular Rwandan children’s TV program (Itetero) which has over six million viewers on and eight million on youtube subscribers in the last eight years of its existence.
The launch event for Itetero.rw marks the introduction of an edutainment platform specifically tailored to cater to the educational and nurturing needs of Rwandan children (aged 0 to 18) and their caregivers.
Itetero.rw will also offer a wide range of content, encompassing early childhood nurturing care, health education, climate change awareness, and more, with a mission to empower communities through accessible and data-free educational resources.
The groundbreaking platform is designed to bridge the digital divide and provide accessible, data-free educational content for children and caregivers in Rwanda.
Gender Minister, Dr. Valentine Uwamariya said that the platform plays a pivotal role in addressing the critical educational and developmental needs of Rwandan children while serving as a two-way communication tool to support child-centered programs and monitor user engagement.
“We are very happy to launch this platform which will enhance the government’s vision of child development. This platform will promote child eduction, health and development,” Uwamariya said.
Uwamariya stressed the importance of the Itetero program has grown to enable children, parents and caregivers to easily access, at any time, essential information about a child’s development whether they use phone technology or other technology based avenues or means in an all inclusive way including children with disabilities.
The Minister used the opportunity to remind parents about the national program of providing healthcare attention to newborns in the first 1,000 days, which she said desperately needs the role of male parents to ensure proper child growth and development.
Kelia Juru Rwema, 11, a pupil at Wisdom Center in Gikondo says that the educative and entertaining platform is cost effective and will encourage children who have no access to internet and smart tech devices to learn easily.
“Now I can be able to access all this information especially on health and nutrition without watching TV. This is good for children since their parents will not have to be worried about internet costs,” Rwema said.
Josephine Mukamusoni, a parent and an Itetero guardian also says that the platform will be inclusive for all parents who are tech literate or illiterate and this will encourage building family life bonds.
Julien Mahoro Niyingabira, the Rwanda Health Communication Centre (RHCC) Division Manager at the Ministry of Health said the platform will enable stakeholders to work together in addressing underlying and crosscutting issues of health, hygiene and sanitation and education which are focus areas of the platform’s content.
Niyingabira stated that as the ministry, they will be deeply engaging the stakeholders to communicate behavioural change in nutrition practices and mindsets especially on the importance of feeding one egg per child per day as a way of curbing stunting figures.
“The health sector comes into this platform in many ways and thus it is very important for us because by its implementation, we will achieve so many indicators regarding nutrition, fight stunting in some districts where we have high numbers,” Niyingabira said.
National statistics indicate that one of three children below five years is stunted in Rwanda and the biggest numbers of these cases are in the 10 districts: Musanze, Gicumbi, Nyamasheke, Kirehe, Gasabo, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rutsiro and Burera.
Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) statistics, show that Rwanda has managed to reduce stunting (among children below 5) from 51% in 2005 to 33% to date.
This is against the National Strategy for Transformation (NST 1) target to reach 19% by 2024, which is also a required target set by the World Health Organization (as an international target).