Rwanda’s development plans are designed to create a knowledge-based society with the hope that this can purge the gap caused by the country’s limited natural resources.
Actually on many occasions, President Paul Kagame has reminded Rwandans that they are the main resource the country has and that if they are trained and well placed, then they can boost the development of the country.
It is for this reason that the country has invested a lot in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as education. The goal is to provide basic education to all children but also to furnish others with specialised skills that they can use to spur the country’s growth and development.
The task of creating a knowledge-based economy is not a simple one and efforts to do so ought to be robust enough to deal with the challenge. It may not be enough to simply create polices for ensuring that each primary school going child has a laptop or improving institutions of higher learning.
Last week I talked about some of the ways parents can promote soft learning for their children during this holiday season. During the course of the week I came to realise that actually there are so many ways in which learning can be boosted on a larger scale.
For example, the problem of a poor reading culture in Rwanda is quite evident and so many people take pride in mentioning it without really giving any solutions to the problem.
It is a fact that our goal of a knowledge-based economy cannot be achieved if people do not love to read. The key question to ask here is what steps have been taken or can be taken to boost the reading culture in the country.
Of course, some will talk of setting up libraries and other grand schemes but there are other softer strategies that can be employed with huge results. For example, recently when Kampala’s city authorities were trying to create some order in the city, all street vendors were chased from the central business district.
However, as soon as the decision had been taken, authorities realised that even newspaper vendors had been displaced in the process. So the next day an exception was made to allow the newspaper sellers to stay on the streets.
The reason I brought this up is because I believe if learning is to occur, then it must be supported. We cannot have a reading culture if people have trouble finding a copy of the day’s newspaper.
In the same spirit, I have always believed that a country should have a vibrant business of selling used books. This can go a long way in helping poor people to access reading material. At the same time people who would have otherwise thrown away their books can have a place to take them and get paid for it.
Nursery and primary schools ought to have maps, pictures, charts and all sorts of educative material available on their walls for children to see and read as they move around the school.
It is quite commendable that Rwanda Television has got some education programmes running each week. The programmes are often targeting secondary school students but more can be done to cover other age groups.
More importantly, local educational content on TV and radio can also go a long way in boosting learning in society since it is easier to relate to.
Learning and seeking knowledge should be made cool by, for instance, organising quizzes and other competitions as well as honouring scholars to show younger people that knowledge like wealth, is a cool thing to have.
The author is an educationalist based in Kigali