How an initiative is sustaining learners’ reading culture during the pandemic

kids at Agati library in Musanze before the Covid-19 pandemic. / Net photo.

Reading is vital when it comes to improving students’ literacy skills and their overall academic performance.

During this time when students are mostly at home, educators recommend for learners to indulge in independent and self-selected reading.

 

It is in this line that ‘Agati’ library in Musanze District in partnership with Energy radio started a radio program known as “NgeNaweDusome” loosely translated as “read with me,’ with a purpose of leveraging radio and digital platforms to bring the voices of learners to the forefront through reading.

 

During the program, young people and adults select books and they record themselves as they read together.

 

In most cases, its two people (a child and an adult) who read the book together and their recording is then aired on radio.

At the end of the show, calls are taken from the audience to answer questions about the reading and to share their thoughts among other feedback.

How it began

Agati Library is a community library that was created by a group of 6 friends who grew up in Musanze District. They came up with this initiative with the aim of providing a quality library for neighbouring schools in the community.

Their main goal was to contribute to the quality of education for their community.

But due to the pandemic, there have been considerable shifts in how the library connects with its learners, according to Patience Rwibutso Karekezi, the representative of Agati library.

Through this new program ‘NgeNaweDusome’ they are able to deliver interactive book reading sessions via radio and digital platforms.

He says that the radio program has come in to ensure learners continue embracing the reading culture.

“This is to provide more opportunities for children to interact with books, reach more people and to keep curbing the spread of Covid19 through the ‘NgeNaweDusome’ program,” Karekezi adds.

Rigobert Uwiduhaye, one of the founders says the radio segment is a virtual library for kids to hear others read; for parents to recognise their support and also act as a real behavioural change strategy that role models can adopt.

“This is to ensure learners are helped to continue reading and ultimately make the most of education especially in such a time when schools are still closed,” he says.

“NgeNaweDusome aims at championing the culture of reading in families during this time of Covid19 and beyond. Additionally, the program also strives to change the perspective about the reading culture within the community,” he says.

The library started with only 95 books and currently has more than 3,500 books with over 1,000 school going children and youth benefiting.

Among the books, more than 1,000 are written in Kinyarwanda while 3,500 are in English.

Apart from buying the books as a group from their savings the library has also received books from different donors.

“This is something we yearned to have since childhood as we didn’t get the opportunity to have a library not only in our respective schools, but also in the whole community,” says Uwiduhaye.

By establishing the library, Uwiduhaye says it was one way of giving back to their community.

The library has since embarked on providing reading and learning opportunities for children beyond the class setting.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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