Reading and writing a ‘solid foundation’ skill for children’s education ministry – KT PRESS

A child reading in an exhibition organized in Kigali Car Free Zone a few months ago

The Department for Education says early reading and writing skills provide “a solid foundation” for children starting or already attending pre-primary and primary schools, but also a determinant for their future academic excellence.

The observation was made during the closing ceremony of the month of literacy held at the Kigali Public Library on September 30. It was themed “Reading Spaces” and aimed to encourage people to create family and community libraries for children.

Literacy or Reading Month was launched on September 8 and aimed to promote the culture of reading among Rwandans.

“It will be very important that we work hard together to transform the learning spaces in our homes, communities and schools. Reading must be inclusive, safe and stimulating for the development of literacy,” said Gaspard Twagirayezu, Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education.

“Creating reading spaces is not an impossible task. It determines student excellence. It is our responsibility to create a literate society,” he added.

According to the Ministry of Education, creating spaces for reading is part of this year’s Literacy Day theme “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces”.

The call to improve the culture of reading comes on the heels of several dismal literacy figures in communities across the country.

For example, a 2015 survey found that only 9% of Rwandan parents said they had 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 have access to books.

Apart from the necessary efforts to increase the reading culture in Rwanda, the literacy rate is steadily improving in Rwanda. In 1991, only 58% of the population over the age of 15 was literate. The number rose to 73% in 2018.

The month of reading was organized by the Ministry of Education, the Soma Rwanda initiative, UNICEF and USAID. It was characterized by several activities including book fairs and reading sessions with children, media talk shows, webinars, visits to community libraries and the distribution of books and other miscellaneous reading materials.

Other activities included setting up reading schedules in some homes and introducing e-books and digital platforms like Habu and EKitabu to rural communities.

“We are closing literacy month, but the reading continues. We should all reflect on the importance of literacy and how it builds an elite and sustainable society. It will start with transforming education, having family and community libraries,” said Patrick Musafiri, Head of Education at Save The Children International.

“The storybooks were distributed in the communities. But more is needed. ” he added.

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