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Andika Rwanda: Grooming a generation of young writers, readers

Sixteen-year-old Philemon Tuyishime is this year’s winner of Andika Rwanda, a competition that encourages school going children to write poems and stories.
Some of the winners pose with certificates.
Some of the winners pose with certificates.

Sixteen-year-old Philémon Tuyishime is this year’s winner of Andika Rwanda, a competition that encourages school going children to write poems and stories.

This is not the first time the senior three student of Groupe Scolaire Murama in Nyabihu District of the Western Province is winning the same competition.

 

Last year, Tuyishime beat more than 1000 students to the first spot with a poem entitled ‘Ijoro rya mbere ahadasanzwe’ (the first night in a strange place), an idea he says is based on the unusual urban life, he experienced when visiting his Aunt in Kigali.

 
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Tuyishime.

“After joining the competition, I discovered that I had a talent in writing. Through continuous participation, my language comprehension also improved,” he explains.

 

Also during the writing and reading month, in Kamonyi District, Tuyishime was recognised as the winner of this year’s competition.

His Kinyarwanda poem ‘Turwanye ingeso mbi bana’ literally translated as ‘let us fight bad behaviors children’ was picked among the best.

He says the poem is about children who spend most of the time away from home, but return in a rush asking for food unbothered about greeting their caretakers. In all his works, Tuyishime believes asking for support from his classmates and elders enabled him to gain more knowledge about poetry.

“My fist inspiration in writing poems started in primary school. At my school, we had an annual education week where I used to recite poems and participate in dancing events. I used to take interest in such opportunities and I could seek more advice from my elder classmates about better ways to write,” he says.

He also believes that such competitions help students to hone their literature skills. “The culture of writing is helpful especially for us students because it helps us to develop a better understanding about Kinyarwanda literature,” Tuyishime says.

About Andika Rwanda

Launched in February 2014, Andika Rwanda competition is an initiative of the Rwanda Education Board and USAID’s Literacy, Language, and Learning programmes that encourages Rwandans of all ages to write stories and poems in both English and Kinyarwanda.

Many school going children pick up their writing skills from here. Some of them develop an interest in becoming writers and publishers.

This year out of 3733 participants from the whole country, 12 winners (7 boys and 5 girls) primary and secondary schools were awarded.

These received awards ranging from computers, certificates of recognition and other school materials.

Stakeholders optimistic

As government grapples to improve the reading culture through such activities, stakeholders suggest that improving reading and writing at all levels will foster meeting the targets early.

Janvier Gasana, the Director General of Rwanda Education Board (REB), points out that the culture of writing is tedious hence encouraging young writers around the country provides an opportunity of reducing expenditure on foreign books in the near future.

“This is a good example and shows that it is possible to acquire well written content from student competitions. If well organized, these can be used as part of school material. I believe it would make a lot more sense writing our own books than buying them,” Gasana noted.

Also Dr. Joyce Musabe, the Head of the Curriculum and Pedagogical Materials Department at REB, explains that such competitions are helping many young people and adults to improve their literacy skills.

“Unlike in the past where few people could read and write, these days a number of people can give testimonies that they are able to read and write well. We need to keep pushing to ensure that these testimonies increase,” says Musabe.

Development partners are actively involved in supporting literacy programmes in Rwanda.

For instance, through the US projects, books have been supplied in more than 2,700 schools.

Matthew P. Roth, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy of the United States of America in Rwanda says that more support should be expected as part of efforts to boost education in Rwanda.

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