Fifty years ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially proclaimed September 8th International Literacy Day to mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies. International Literacy Day is now celebrated worldwide, including in Rwanda.
The UN’s 17 SDG’s specifically the fourth, calls to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote long life learning opportunities for all”. Rwanda’s effort through the Ministry of Education in achieving the fourth SDG include equitable access to Nine and Twelve-year basic education, improved quality and learning outcomes across primary and secondary education.
The national culture heritage policy in the Ministry of Sports and Culture states that reading is a vital means of acquisition of knowledge, skills and expression of thought especially in modern world and the promotion of reading and writing is foundational to building a knowledge based economy which is one of the pillars of Rwanda’s vision 2020.
All the above confirm the urgency and need for promoting the reading culture, however, Rwanda currently lacks a culture of reading. Due to the oral traditions, the lack of Kinyarwanda books, the lack of exposure to reading as children, it is perceived that children do not like reading and do not enjoy reading books.
The contrary is true. Given the right environment and right materials to read, it has been shown that children love books and enjoy reading. Even among the highly educated and more affluent population, very few inculcate a habit of reading among their children. Given the opportunity to give their child a gift, many choose to indulge them with chocolates and sweets, and do not consider books to be an option.
Arise Education and its partners believes that being able to read is the foundation for all future learning. Ensuring that children master this skill early is essential as it will pave the way for their ongoing learning, decrease the number of children dropping out of school early and reduce inefficiencies in the education system.