Hundreds of Children in Ngororero district thrilled by famous Rwandan artist, Tom Close at a Literacy Campaign organized by Save the Children
To mark the literacy month in Rwanda, Save the Children, under the Education Signature Programme, successfully conducted an early literacy campaign this Tuesday, the 5th of October, 2015, for mainly children between 0-6years in Ngororero district. The campaign was one of the activities that are organized under Rwanda Reads, an initiative of the Ministry of Education, bringing together government, development partners, civil society and the Rwandan community at large to celebrate and promote literacy and also raise awareness on the importance of literacy to the country’s development.
The campaign was organized in partnership with Umuhuza organization and Kina Music under the theme, “Nkunda gusoma, (to literally mean, I love reading) Open a book, Open the world” and was attended by hundreds of children with their parents. The campaign in Ngororero district was specifically aimed at raising awareness about the importance of emergent and early literacy skills in children aged 0-6 years.
The campaign was organized in two sessions; an early morning baby reading session and a music concert featuring Rwandan artists; Tom Close (Thomas Muyombo, real names), who tripples as medical doctor, singer and author of children’s books, and Bruce Melodie (Bruce Itahiwacu, real names) who thrilled the audience with edutaining performances that swept the crowd off their feet. Throughout their performances, the artists used the interludes to deliver clear and strong messages on the importance of reading, encouragement to all the children to adopt a reading culture at very young age to have it as part and parcel of their lives.
Tom Close also launched and performed for the first time, “Kunda Gusoma”, a song he wrote with Kina Music, for Save the Children with a particular aim of sensitizing Rwandans to improve their reading culture and instill the same among their children.
“I love reading. You too should love it and make it your culture”, the ‘Komeza Utsinde’ artist encouraged the children.
Children from different villages across the district in the company of their parents flocked to the Ngororero taxi park for the event and by 10:00am, a baby and parent reading tent had been made available for parents to sit, read and bond with their children from a variety of high quality age appropriate books made available by Save the Children in partnership with Umuhuza. Also in line with play based learning, a variety of toys were availed to the young children to play and enjoy the event while the older children teamed up in groups as one of them read out loud to the rest. Children enjoyed these different activities.
As part of the event, a testimony was heard from two beneficiaries of the Save the Children and Umuhuza’s ‘First Read’ Project. They happily shared their experience, conveying their appreciation to the two organizations for having introduced the programme that raised their awareness about reading and especially on how parents can help their very young children to acquire emergent and early literacy and numeracy skills and attain school readiness at an early age. They were happy to say that their children now take reading as part of their daily routine and are always happy to share with their parents all the stories they have read at the end of the day. One of the parents also said that reading has improved his daughters’ performance at school and improved their relationship with their parents since they are always close to help them out while they read.
The literacy promotion activity was closed by Mr. Mupenzi Esdras, the Director of Good Governance in Ngororero district who, on behalf of the district authorities, expressed gratitude towards Save the Children and partner, Umuhuza Organization for their efforts in promoting literacy among children in the district. He commended the program and said that it will not only be a program for Save the Children and Umuhuza, but they will try and advocate for the same at lower levels so that families take it as part of their responsibility and culture in the good upbringing of their children. He also requested that the scope of the program be widened so that it can run for more time than a few hours in a single day and eventually, benefit more people. On behalf of the district, Mr. Mupenzi pledged that mentors on village (umudugudu) level will be organized and then training sought so that they can cooperate with Save the Children and Umuhuza to carry on the efforts on ground. This will help to facilitate follow up and evaluation of the reading activities across the district, making the efforts by the two organizations sustainable.
Save the Children commended the leadership of Ngororero district and parents for their cooperation and positive attitude towards improving their children’s reading culture. Parents and teachers were also urged to keep close to their children while they read to help them improve both their reading and listening skills as well as their performance at school.