When Emerithe Musanabera, a primary six student at GS Nkondo in Rwinkwavu sector, Kayonza District, was in P3, she could neither read nor write due to the gaps in learning which hindered her performance.
She told Education Times that her mother couldn’t help her keep up as she is uneducated, and with the high number of students in class, the teacher was unable to follow-up on every student.
“I was embarrassed every time I saw others reading and writing well. I left primary one with those gaps, all the way to primary three. I had no one to tutor me since our teacher had too many students to attend to everyone who needed to catch up,” she said.
About 300 students in primary and secondary school who were found with gaps in learning were taken to join the community library and learning centre in Kayonza District to catch up, says Jean Marie Habimana, one of the supervisors of the learning centre.
“After joining the learning centre, which we go to after school and during the holiday, I am now improving on reading and writing and I have an enthusiasm to do the national primary six exams. I even read English well. I have also starting writing small stories which we are encouraged to read in public to boost our confidence and guidance skills,” Musanabera said.
Faith Umutoniwase, a P5 student, said the youth learning centre has ‘sharpened her brain’ since it was previously difficult for her to read.
The students gathered for a two-week intensive literacy and enrichment camp and conference (August 9 to 14) that had mentors of learning clubs across East Africa share their experience on promoting reading and writing skills through literacy clubs and programmes in five countries, namely; Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, USA and Uganda.
The clubs combat reading inability that happens when children are not engaged during the essential out-of-school time and school holidays, says Habimana, the programme coordinator.
“We work with teachers in primary and secondary schools and select students who have gaps in literacy to join the learning centre. We also teach illiterate adults, all who gain more skills in reading ability, computer literacy, and we offer early childhood development services, to mention a few,” he said.
Gaps in literacy among children are mainly because of parents who unfortunately cannot contribute to the learning of their children after school, and teachers who can’t manage the great number of students they teach, Habimana said.