During the times of our forefathers we had informal education. This consisted of training both girls and boys how to be responsible people in society by embracing different activities such as hunting, cultivating, animal husbandry. Formal education was brought in our communities by the colonialist, thus being incorporated into our cultures.
Story telling, in the ancient times was a way of educating the children about the history of their ancestors, something that has gone missing for the current generation. Currently, children are growing up without knowing their background yet it’s an important aspect in their lives.
One’s culture, especially during childhood, influences the patterns of language both at home and the school thus modelling and promoting language and literacy development.
One of the factors that contribute to the child’s development, especially literacy development, in the early years of their life is culture. It’s through cultural traits that children become knowledgeable about the things that surround them.
According to the World Bank report, published in 2010, in 2008 the Literacy rate of youth (ages 15-24) in Rwanda was 77.1%. The youth represent over 65% of the population of Rwanda.
A child’s parents and society play a big role in their literacy development and culture is what defines a society. Promoting early childhood literacy is a determining factor of the child’s life-long learning process.
For example, if every parent reads to their child or promote shared reading of a child’s favourite book, it boosts the child‘s literacy development, therefore helping them attain literacy skills. For this to be productive, the child’s family culture of reading is must be good.
The Education Development Centre last year established a programme on Literacy, Language and Learning (L3) for the early learners (Pupils from primary one-four) to pave way for Rwanda’s stalling reading and writing culture. According to Norman Evans, Technical Director of EDC, they had to focus on, teaching children on how to read and write Kinyarwanda.
She said, “in order to quicken the transition to English as a language of instruction, the best foundation is having strong mother tongue literacy skills. Therefore, a student who can write and read Kinyarwanda well will find it easier to transition into the English language because they will easily transit the language learning skills they already have.”
Therefore its society‘s role to instil cultural traits by teaching the children their local language first before they take on the foreign languages. It is rare for a child to forget what they were taught early.