Rwanda marks Mother Tongue Day


EP Kamashashi pupils listen to officials on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day celebrations in Kicukiro District on Thursday. At the event, USAID, through its project, Soma Umenye, donated Kinyarwanda storybooks to the school to help improve literacy in the vernacular language among the young learners. Research has shown that children learn better in their mother tongue. Courtesy.

Rwanda on Thursday joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Mother Language Day, with an event that featured the handover of Kinyarwanda storybooks and bookshelves for classrooms.

The event, held at EP Kamashashi School in Kicukiro District, was attended by several officials, including the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi; USAID Mission Director Leslie Marbury, and the Mayor of Kicukiro District, Jeanne Nyirahabimana.

Munyakazi applauded everyone involved in preserving Kinyarwanda as a mother tongue, singling out USAID’s work through Soma Umenye and other projects.

“The Ministry of Education is happy to collaborate with USAID to strengthen the capacity of the education system in Rwanda by implementing and supporting high-quality, evidence-based reading instruction throughout the country, enabling quality Kinyarwanda reading instruction to be an integral part of our children’s education,” he is quoted as saying a statement.

Marbury reaffirmed the US government’s support for improving literacy in Kinyarwanda. “USAID will continue to work with the Government of Rwanda to ensure that students achieve literacy in Kinyarwanda in the early grades of primary school,” she said.

“The future workforce of Rwanda depends on the foundational skills that these children are learning today,” she said.

At the event, participants emphasised the importance of Kinyarwanda literacy for every student’s academic success, and praised the progress being made in Rwanda, adds the statement.

“Throughout 2018, USAID Soma Umenye will support the Ministry of Education in distributing storybooks in Kinyarwanda and bookshelves to every single lower primary classroom across Rwanda,” according to the USAID statement.

“Worldwide research shows that children learn to read faster and better in the first language they speak and understand,” it says.

International Mother Language Day falls on February 21 and seeks to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism.

The 2018 international theme was “Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development” while the national theme was “Let’s preserve Kinyarwanda while protecting its authenticity and quality.”