The reading culture in Rwanda is considered low with few people willing to take time to read a book or two.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sharon Haba, emphasised the need for all players to put in more effort to promote the reading culture.
“Though the Ministry of Education has several programs in place to this effect, the issue should be taken up by everybody to see that we improve our otherwise bad position,” Haba said.
She explained that the Ministry has put in effort by availing textbooks in schools.
“Currently the book to student ratio in schools stands at 1:1 which is not bad,” she said, adding that availing of text books is complemented by reading campaigns to make sure that the books do not remain in the shelves.
“This, of course, has to begin with the teachers as they have to lead by example and we are doing this in all the schools.”
In August 2009, Kigali City Council in collaboration with Editions Bakame, a local publisher, launched a reading campaign through a ‘mobile library’ concept. Books are taken to schools for the children to read on a rotational basis.
Haba also pointed out the Ministry’s ongoing literacy campaign, in which senior six leavers, teach illiterate Rwandans how to read and write, as another initiative that has encouraged reading.
“People in the countryside are taught how to read, write and count through the literacy campaign and these become readers, hence the needed improvement of the reading culture,” she said.
The campaign aims at reducing the illiteracy rate in the country which currently stands at 25 percent, with rural areas the most rampant, according to the Ministry of Education.
The Education Ministry, within the economic development and poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS), has set a target of having 85 percent of men and 80 percent of women literate by the end of this year.
The Ministry also plans to launch a reading campaign in a few weeks.
Parents are also encouraged to help instill the culture of reading into their children at an early stage.
In an interview, John Gatera, an English trainer based in Kigali emphasised the role of the parents in cultivating the culture.
“Parents should encourage their children to read books at an early age. This should be done by helping them read their books,” Gatera said.
Edward Karimwabo, a semi-literate parent of three, says that though he is of little help, he encourages his primary school-going children to read whatever material they set their eyes on.
“I complement the encouragement by buying for them books at every level of their education,” Karimwabo, a resident of Kicukiro said.