Reading without limits: Investment in age appropriate Kinyarwanda Children’s storybooks to boost their reading culture.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Research showed that 18% of P3 children could not read one word of a grade-level Kinyarwanda text, and 50% could not answer even half of the comprehension questions relating to the passage they just read.

Kigali, Rwanda 18th November 2016 –On a warm Friday morning, government leaders and parents from around Kigali accompanied by children were welcomed at Car Free zone, in the heart of Kigali City to witness the launch of “Chocolate Book Campaign”. “The launch was informative and always interesting to read story books written in Kinyarwanda for improving my reading skills with support of our parents”, said 13 year-old Diane Akaliza.  

One of the children happily participating in the activities of the Chocolate Book Campaign

Save the Children and partners showcased the practical application of community based literacy boosting for children through a children’s book fair featuring activities like ‘read aloud’ sessions, storytelling, and selling of children’s books – all to promote reading culture among Rwanda children. The country wide campaign, which will end in September 2017 is themed “Kinyarwanda story books for all children, sustaining our legacy”, and aims to encourage parents to buy story books for their children as they would routinely buy sweets, chocolates, and cakes among others.

“What a great initiative to parents and children. Many parents find it easy to buy everything else including food for their children, but once you mention a book; they complain that books are expensive. Parents need to know that feeding children’s brain is equally important as feeding their bodies hence need to invest in books,” – noted Theogene Musabeyezu, a representative of Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture.

A parent reading a story book to children during a "read aloud session" at the campaign launch

The campaign will be conducted in different parts of the country through a series of activities such as book fairs, book caravans, installing book stalls in different supermarkets as well as children co-authoring story books with prominent figures.

‘‘This campaign will leave parents in full light of the importance of reading and writing to their children to promote children’s literacy. If you go to shop with your child, as you buy other items such as clothes, shoes, eats; remember to include at least one Kinyarwanda age appropriate story book”, said Gasana Mutesi the Executive Director, Arise Education, a partner in the Chocolate Book Campaign.

In Rwanda, research conducted by Save the Children clearly highlighted that P4 and P6 grade students have difficulties in reading and comprehending P2–P3 level texts in Kinyarwanda and English. After three years in primary school, 13% of P4 students could not read a single word of a Kinyarwanda at a P2–P3 level and 13% of these students could not correctly read more than 15 words in a minute. Among those children who were able to read, almost 40% of P4 students could not answer even half of the comprehension questions relating to the passage they had just read.  The “Chocolate Book Campaign” is part of Save the Children’s USAID funded Literacy project, Mureke Dusome.