In his recent speech to the Young Presidents Organization, President Paul Kagame stated: “Leadership is about galvanizing and ensuring that everyone involved feels part of the process”.
He also attributed Rwanda’s progress mostly to the efforts of the Rwandan people.
Today, Rwandans from all walks of life—government, business and civil society—are moving Rwanda forward towards Vision 2020. Literacy is the cornerstone for any knowledge-based economy.
Building literacy is therefore critical if Rwanda is to achieve her Vision 2020. Reading skills build the foundation for all future learning, and it is proven that people who can read enjoy better health, make more money, and serve their communities more effectively.
The Ministry of Education and the Rwandan Education Board recently launched the Rwanda Reads Initiative – a four-year program aimed at creating a culture of reading in Rwanda.
This one-of-a-kind initiative aims to increase the literacy rate to 100% by 2020.
An all-encompassing educational effort, Rwanda Reads provides new materials for schools, innovative teacher training, mobile libraries, improved reading curriculum, and a school mentorship program.
On International Literacy Day celebrated on September 7, USAID awarded grants to the thirty-two winners for its “All Children Reading” Global Competition aiming to recognize innovative projects to advance reading and literacy, and Rwanda was one of the winners!
Representing Rwanda on International Literacy Day in Washington, D.C., Dr. Joyce Musabe of the Rwandan Education Board noted: “a nation can’t be developed without its human capital being well-equipped, and reading is one of the ways to achieve it!
Drakkar Ltd, a Rwandan bookseller and education business, was awarded for its breakthrough “Improving Reading and Writing Capacity in Primary Grades” program - a twenty-month initiative starting in October. Building literacy in the native language is essential yet Rwandan schools are lacking materials written in Kinyarwanda.
As a solution, Drakkar Ltd will distribute 60,000 storybooks in Kinyarwanda to over 300 primary schools in the Southern Province.
Teachers in these schools will be trained on how to use the books to teach reading strategies, and thus increase reading and writing fluency.
In addition to working with primary schools, Drakkar Ltd will also launch a national writing competition for children’s stories written in Kinyarwanda. Finalists will be selected to attend a writing workshop given by notable African authors.
The six best stories—three by children and three by adults—will be published by Pearson – the leading international publisher. This innovative project thus ensures that new stories for children – written in Kinyarwanda by Rwandan authors – become available on the national market.
Rwanda is a world leader in homegrown solutions to her national problems. This must, and will, continue to be the case as we strive to improve our literacy rates in both our native language as well as English.
As Drakkar Ltd. shows, literacy is the business of every Rwandan. You can contribute as well, by taking advantage of local initiatives, visiting a library, reading with your family, encouraging your children, and writing stories for the national competition next year.
Ultimately, Literacy is also the cornerstone of Agaciro: it opens our souls, our minds and our hearts to knowledge to transform our lives, our communities and our country for the best.
By participating, we each become leaders working towards Rwanda’s progress.