Kinyarwanda children's book initiative 'paying off'

An initiative to help children from level one to level three in primary schools to read and write Kinyarwanda is bearing fruit, officials have said.
Pupils at Kirambo Primary school in Burera District read story books. (J.Mbonyinshuti)
Pupils at Kirambo Primary school in Burera District read story books. (J.Mbonyinshuti)

An initiative to help children from level one to level three in primary schools to read and write Kinyarwanda is bearing fruit, officials have said.

The “Rwanda Children’s Book Initiative,” (RCBI) started two years ago as a pilot project aimed at supporting publishers to produce high quality, age appropriate, Kinyarwanda children’s books for schools.

It also aimed at improving teachers’ skills, knowledge and confidence to use the books in support of literacy acquisition. During the project, publishers, illustrators, editors among others were trained on how to work together to publish high quality children’s books.

It had been observed that Rwanda, like other developing countries, lacked quality children’s books due to unavailability, poor supply chain, inadequate demand, poor management and use among others.

Seated on a mat in the class in Burera District at Kirambo Primary School on Monday, pupils were reading illustrated story books.

“I like reading these books because they have interesting stories,” said Chance Elvine Remika, a Primary two pupil.

“I have read several books with different stories. I and my colleagues sit and read together, it is enjoyable”.

Remika, like her colleagues got the books from Save the Children.

Alphonsine Mukarutwaza, the head teacher at Kirambo primary school said, children’s ability to read has improved since they received the new books, adding that the former system would not allow pupils acquire basic reading skills.

“Our kids would reach level3 without the ability to read due to the nature of books we had, but with these new books, our children can fluently read as they are of good quality and appropriate for their age,” says Mukarutwaza.

Save the Children carried out research to assess the impact of RCBI among students, head teachers and teachers.

A comparison of ‘RCBI’ and ‘non-RCBI’ books revealed that RCBI books were highquality.

“We found that Children in Primary one and primary two were reading with more fluency and with more comprehension. They were even writing better. We also noticed that teachers were teaching more confidently in Kinyarwanda,” said Sofia Cozzorino, RCBI Project Manager at Save the Children.

Cozzorino disagrees that Rwandans don’t have a reading culture saying that it was due to lack of suitable Kinyarwanda books.

She said that they were working with the Ministry of Education to see how more books could be published and distributed.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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