Education experts yesterday ended a two-day conference in Kigali at which they sought to chart ways to increase literacy among young Rwandan children. The meeting looked at the essential role of competency-based literacy as the gateway to quality teaching and learning in all primary education subject areas.
Opening the conference, on Wednesday, Dr Papias Musafiri, the minister for education, said the role of literacy instruction in the new competency-based curriculum, best practices in early grade literacy instruction and strategies to ensure that all learners leave primary school able to read and write with comprehension and fluency would be among the topics of discussion.
The age-old adage says education is the key. And reading, more than any other aspect, is the strongest cornerstone that can be laid at the foundation of education.
Over the years, the government has been running nationwide campaigns to promote reading culture in both English and Kinyarwanda. The campaign, coupled with the effort of USAID’s Literacy, Language and Learning (L3) initiative, has seen a significant progress in reading, especially at primary school level.
The USAID says in 2014, a Primary One child would read 4.8 correct words per minute, a Primary Two child 19.2 correct words, and a Primary Three child 22.1 correct words per minute. Last year, however, a Primary One child could read 7.5 correct words per minute, a Primary Two child 21.5, and a Primary Three child 25.1 words.
Now, looking beyond classrooms as a place to learn reading, homes and after-class programmes, too, play a significant role in raising child literacy. In a country where many parents are either illiterate or not proficient in English language, many children find themselves with very limited options when it comes to home works.
Child literacy has a correlation with parent literacy. This means the ideals of adult literacy should be given much more attention and parents can then be encouraged to do more for their children’s learning at home.
Also, more resources should be channeled into after-class initiatives at the village and cell levels to give children more time to catch up away from classrooms.