As the world celebrated the Book and Copyright Day, yesterday, the Minister of Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza, lamented Rwanda’s low reading culture.
The United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), since 1995, named April 23 of every year a World Book and Copyright Day, in an effort to promote reading, publishing and protection of intellectual property through copyright.
In a phone interview, Minister Habineza expressed concern over the fact that Rwandans seem to rely more on oral than written facts, which according to him doesn’t facilitate the flow of information and enrichment of knowledge.
“Even intellectuals don’t read much here,” he said, naming a number of local newspapers that suffer from lack of strong readership.
“It’s a reality here. How many people read how many books in a year?”
But Habineza cited the classic education system as one of the reasons that don’t inspire the culture of reading in students at the very young age, whereby teachers took too much time insisting on theoretical cramming than practical research.
He also cited the lack of writing skills and enthusiasm as one of the major concerns that affect the people’s history, as there is little or no documentation to make important archives and conservation.
The Minister however said that plans are underway to create public libraries in at least every district so as to provide people with easy access to reading materials, adding that the Ministry will embark on a campaign to encourage everyone to read.
Apart from lack of interest in reading, third world countries – Rwanda included – are said to have low literacy levels.
For long, this date (April 23) has been celebrated as a symbolic date of world literature, coinciding with births or deaths of world renowned writers such as William Shakespeare, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Maurice Druon, K. Laxness and Josep Pla.