RE: “Rwf68 billion Kinyarwanda early childhood learning project launched” (The New Times, February 17).
This is a great initiative! Having thought about this for some years, it has seemed to me for some time that one reason behind the problems many children (and many adults) have with reading and writing in English is that they have not learnt it well enough as their first language, and that reading is almost viewed as a punishment, rather than as something that can be fun.
Now, comparing my friends in Rwanda with some of my friends with children in other countries, there is still one more thing that is needed, in my view: parents must be actively involved, and not just leave it to the school.
While I know how difficult this would be in many families, parents should aim to read with each child for 15 minutes every evening, something that the child is really interested in.
With books expensive and difficult to obtain, would it perhaps help to provide a free smartphone app, with age-appropriate stories or even longer texts, including some pages of illustrations, to be used by parents?
If this was well done, then slightly older children might even come to beg their parents to be allowed to read the next evening’s installment!
Come to think of it, would it not be helpful even to older students and young adults, to have literature and other texts, in Kinyarwanda as well as in English or French, of different levels of difficulty, available in a free app? (Actually, free apps to display files in EPUB format already exist – what is needed are the appropriate texts, ones that actually interest the young readers).