Digital publishing trailblazers embrace open licensing

Thursday 2 September 2021

Prior to 2019, there were few books published in Rwanda for readers 3-6 years old and even fewer titles depicting STEM, gender equality and disability inclusion. In response to this, Save the Children launched Reading Ready, funded by World Bank’s Results in Education for All Children initiative, to build publisher capacity in book production and improve access and use through an innovative and growth-driven Results-Based Financing approacA curated package of non-financial incentivizes were developed with participating children’s book entrepreneurs – Cactus Publishers, Espace Litteraire Soma, Mudacumura Publishing House, Perdua Publishers, Sankofa Creatives, School Books Distributors and Ubuntu Publishers – and tailored to help realize publisher visions and project goals.

“The training and capacity building received by our illustrators and designers helped upgrade their competencies,” attested Barigye Arthur Magunga, Managing Director of School Books Distributors.  From management and marketing to digitization and design, local publishers got a boost from non-monetary perks which shifted industry attitudes towards open educational resources. As Fiston Mudacumura, Founder and CEO of Mudacumura Publishing House, put it, “Open licensing does not mean loss.” Indeed, children and caregivers alike gain from having access to entertaining and educational stories published in local languages. 

In addition to training community librarians, pre-primary teachers, head teachers and education officials on incorporating print and digital materials into everyday activities, Reading Ready efforts culminated in the production of 50 new, pre-primary Kinyarwanda titles and translation of 50 existing lower primary stories into English. We are excited that books will be available for free on Global Digital Library and online platforms managed by Kigali Public Library, Rwanda Basic Education Board and the National Child Development Agency. Book lovers of all ages can enjoy reading, sharing and/or printing digital titles such as The Traditional Bicycle from Cactus Publishers, Angel in the Forest from Espace Litteraire Soma, Kabuto from Perdua Publishers and more at no additional cost. Quality print books can still be purchased from retailers and publishers.

The initial reaction from readers has been positive. According to Mutesi Gasana, Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Publishers, “We have received appreciation from our primary readers, especially parents with children aged 6-10 years who read our books. Inkima Ziririmba and Akaliza Goes into Space are our bestsellers for now and we are so humbled that the customer appreciation was based on genre and the illustrations.”

Publishers have started a new chapter – unlocking tech-enabled distribution channels and exploring the limitless possibilities of open licensing – giving children more opportunities to read and learn from fiction in multiple formats!


For more information about Reading Ready, please contact