In a conference room, last week children won the admiration of hundreds of people while presenting a report on findings of a research they did about the impact of the Literacy Boost, a programme being implemented by Save the Children Rwanda in Gicumbi district.
Literacy Boost is a holistic early grades reading programme designed to help children learn to read better, both in-school through teacher training and support, and out-of-school through community and home activities.
The research was conducted by 25 young researchers, and had 96 children respondents, all from 4 primary schools.
Fabiola Gahire, 10, from Groupe Scolaire Cyeye in Gicumbi, said they have been trained about how to conduct a research and did a lot of practice before conducting the actual study.
“Research consists of doing investigation about something in order to get more information,” she said.
Six steps are to be followed when conducting a research, she said. The process has to start with observation, thinking, fixing a purpose, questioning, analysis then sharing findings.
“The content of the research has to be a secret until the last step of sharing the results,’ Gahire said.
Hubert Irahari, 12, a Primary Five pupil from Gicumbi, said after getting responses to their questionnaire, they gathered the answers and analyzed them, then suggested recommendations on how to improve the Literacy Boost Programme in Rwanda.
Findings and recommendations
These young researchers found some challenges which are holding back the positive impact of the programme.
“Books are very few; more than two children are obliged to share the same book. There are also some children who dropped out of school, and parents who can’t help their children because they can’t read and write,” said Irahari.
Helping children who dropped out of school and increasing the number of books in schools are among the main recommendations from the research, he noted.
Furthermore, literate children should help others, and the Literacy Project should be extended to other children, the research suggests.
Gahire said participating in a research helped her realise that she too can make a big contribution to national development as a child.
“We met various leaders I had never met before. We shared ideas with adults which was unusual to me. It’s amazing to see leaders and other adults paying attention to children,” she said.
Irahari said if their recommendations are implemented, then reading among children will become a culture.
FrodouardTuyishimire, the head of crosscutting programme unit at Ministry of Education, said some recommendations from the research match with the existing programmes of the ministry.
“For instance, they recommended us to bring more books in schools so that every child has a book to read, promoting research, reducing the number of illiterate adults and children, among others. All these suggestions match with our programmes,” he said.
Helping children conduct research about their issues and let them participate in bringing solutions helps them to understand what’s going on and why things happen the way they are, Tuyishime added.
Christine Umuhoza, a teacher to G.S Rebero in Gicumbi and the facilitator during the research, said these children have been a role model to others.
“Children have different talents and if exploited they can be useful to the community and nation even before becoming adults. Children can do great things if they are given a platform or helped. Many people including parents don’t attach importance to the children’s ideas, and that’s how most of them lose their capacity. They need to be heard and helped to use their talents from a young age,” she said.
Philippe Adapoe, the country director, Save the Children, said they engaged children in doing a research on the impact of the Boost Literacy programme to encourage child participation.
“It’s a programme working in three districts of Gicumbi, Burera and Ngororero aimed at showing children that they have potential to do great things now. They don’t have to wait for adulthood in order to be useful to the country,” he said.
“Being assessed by children is humbling and we are honoured by the quality of their work. We are committed to continue supporting children participation in order for them to achieve their full potential,” Adapoe added.