Sixbert Hagenimana, a 9-year-old is in Primary Four at Ruhango Adventist Primary School located in Rwoga sector in Ruhango District.
He struggles to read and write Kinyarwanda. Now, he is among 100 pupils registered for school based reading club, initiated by Save the Children and other partners through Mureke Dusome USAID funded project.
When The New Times visited the school this week, we found Hagenimana reading from a story book, entitled ‘Teta N’Akanyoni’ for other children.
You can hear that he is still struggling to pronounce some words or put together sentences quickly, posing at several intervals.
Hagenimana says that though he still has a long way to go this reading club has improved his skills a lot more than classroom alone could do.
“In classroom, we don’t get enough opportunity to read aloud for others because we are too many.
Most of the time our teachers do the reading and we follow. Also, there are no enough books to read. Thanks to this club, not only do we read from the club but also we are allowed to borrow any book and take it home and read it any time we want to,” he said.
At Ruhango Adventist Reading Club, children from primary one to three meet for a 1h30’ session (3pm to 4:30 pm) to read, discuss books and borrow others with an education facilitators’ assistance.
The club started in June 2017 with 60 pupils and it has since expanded to accommodate over 100.
Gloria Umugwaneza, an 8-year-old in primary three, is another member of the club. She says that apart from reading books, the club also offers them opportunity to learn other life skills and moral values Rwandan children should have.
Canisius Hakizimana, the club facilitator, says that the reading culture here is no longer the same since the establishment of the club as the attendance shows how children enjoy reading Kinyarwanda story books.
“When we started out, the attendance rate was low as there were not enough mobilisation among parents but progressively there was improvement and more parents started to send their children to join the club. We are grateful for the progress made in sharpening reading skills at a tender age but also we think their academic performance has improved as well,” he said.
On the other hand, Celestin Rutayisire, the project coordinator in charge of community engagement, said that through Mureke Dusome project, 1410 (in 10 districts) reading clubs have been established with a target to increase the number to 2500 by the September 2019.
He adds that based on parents and school testimonies, the project is having a great impact on learning outcomes, since children are now encouraged to read and revise from home.
“Pupils are scoring high in Kinyarwanda and other subjects as well thanks to improved reading culture. Children have come to understand that education is no longer a classroom matter alone,” he said.
He urged parents to be at the engine of learning and reading efforts by establishing home based reading environment to encourage their children to read more as well.
Statistics from the Learning Assessment System (LARS) aimed at measuring and monitoring educational outcomes on an on-going basis shows that primary two and five pupils were meeting only about 45 per cent of grade level expectations in literacy, measured in Kinyarwanda for primary two and English for primary five.
Mureke Dusome (which means ‘Let’sRead!’ in Kinyarwanda) is a 4-year USAID-funded project (2016-2020) that aims at fostering partnerships between schools and the broader community in a bid to improve literacy outcomes for children in primary one to three.