New initiative seeks to boost reading culture among children

A local non-government organization, Rwanda Bookmobile Initiative, has introduced a mobile library that aims to support children across the county to improve their reading skills.

Launched on Friday last week, the initiative targets primary pupils by supplying books published in Kinyarwanda, French, and English.

“We will tour the country with a mobile library on a bus across schools. We will be reading for them and giving away books. The books target early primary pupils,” Pacifique Mahirwe, a Writer and Director of Rwanda Bookmobile Initiative said.

Reading physical books is a more “effective and genuine” of learning than using digital platforms because it has fewer destructions, Mahirwe said, making the case for a mobile library.

With support from Imbuto Foundation, the project is keen on helping young learners to access reading materials.

“A lot of school libraries are inaccessible, and a lot of books are textbooks,” said Shanon Porthault, a Partner in Rwanda Bookmobile. 

A 2018 joint baseline survey by the United State Agency International Developments (USAID) and Save the Children- Rwanda, showed that most children do not have access to storybooks outside the school premises.

Only five percent of children have access to Kinyarwanda storybooks at home, the survey revealed, adding that only six percent have access to a library or somewhere in their community where they can read or borrow books.

Immaculée Nyiransengiyumva, a teacher at Ecole Primaire Sainte Famille—one of the first beneficiaries of the project—said; “I have been teaching for over 30 years. I have realized that reading, especially in Kinyarwanda, still challenges many young learners. So, the initiative is a great opportunity to improve their literacy levels.”

According to Mureke Dusome, a project by Save the Children, there are over 1,400 reading clubs equipped with 100 different storybooks each, in 18 districts that are working with nearby primary schools. Over 317,000 children have joined the reading clubs.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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