On February 21, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Rwanda Education Board (REB) joined the worldwide celebration of International Mother Language Day by hosting a special talk show on Rwanda Radio.
The radio program highlighted the importance of the “mother language” of Rwanda, Kinyarwanda, for the schooling of Rwandese children. Research from the USAID funded Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) initiative has shown that children with a strong foundation in Kinyarwanda reading are better able to read in other languages, such as English, and to succeed in school.
REB Director General JanvierGasana, and the winners of the USAID-sponsored Andika Rwanda writing competition participated in the talk show. The Director General emphasized, “The Kinyarwanda language is the foundation of our country’s culture and its children’s education. By ensuring that children in the early grades learn to read in the language they speak at home, Rwandan children can learn to read faster and better, and then transfer those skills to be successful readers of English in P4.”
USAID, through the Soma Umenye Activity, is supporting the Rwanda Education Board to improve children’s reading ability in Kinyarwanda at the lower primary level.
The partnership includes support to increase the quantity and quality of Kinyarwanda language textbooks and supplementary reading materials in early-grade classrooms, as well as to provide training for teachers about how to improve instruction for Kinyarwanda reading. By ensuring that children have a foundation in the first and most crucial competency, Kinyarwanda reading, Rwanda’s youth will be prepared to address the challenges on the 21st century.
On the radio program, USAID Basic Education Specialist Emile Rudasingwa echoed the importance of Kinyarwanda literacy. He explained, “Education in the mother language is vital for children to succeed in school and to realize their full potential.
Only when people realize their full potential will the country achieve its development goals. By partnering with the Government of Rwanda to support Kinyarwanda literacy, we are ensuring that Rwanda’s children have the keys to success for themselves and their country.”