Save the Children hosts a successful literacy Umuganda event in Kigali City.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Save the Children in Rwanda conducted a literacy Umuganda event over the weekend for children residing within Ruganwa Village, Kamutwa Cell, Kacyiru Sector, Gasabo district in Kigali City. The event was held opposite the Ruganwa Village office on Saturday, the 26th of September, between 08:00am -11:00am.

The Umuganda literacy event was part of the “Rwanda Reads” literacy campaign that was conducted across the country in the month of September. The Umuganda literacy event was held to raise awareness on the importance of emergent and early literacy among children aged 0-9 years and exploring the idea of having an “Umuganda” for children so that they can enjoy books while the adults do the usual Umuganda activities. Save the Children recognized that Umuganda is a good opportunity to meet parents and pass on messages about the importance of reading and sharing books with children as well as tips on how to support children’s emergent literacy skills development.  So, while the adults gathered for community work in their neighborhood, their children were assembled a few metres away reading and enjoying a variety of story books in the local language, Kinyarwanda.  The books which were provided by Save the Children are produced and published by local publishers supported by Save the Children’s Rwanda Childrens’ Book Initiative (RCBI) project.

Caroline Dusabe, the Save the Children Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme Manager   reads aloud a story-book to children

During the campaign, children were provided with a variety of story-books and given an opportunity to read as many stories as they could. Some of the children were even accompanied by their parents who came to help them to read and witness their progress in reading. Some of the mothers happily brought along their months-old babies to enjoy and explore the available baby books. The mothers were pleasantly surprised to see their babies enjoying the picture books. The Literacy Umuganda event was attended by over 100 children ranging between 4 months old-19years of age and they were all actively engaged in the reading exercise.  Caroline Dusabe, the ECD Programme Manager encouraged the participating parents to start sharing books with their children immediately after birth. She said “Babies need books too! They need to start getting exposed to books early in order to gain critical emergent literacy skills.” She added that “Sharing a book with a baby also provides an opportunity to bond with the baby which is important for a baby’s social-emotional development.”

Babies being exposed to books to develop their reading culture


Some of the children picking out more books of their choice at the literacy Umuganda event

Kabayiza Marie Welcome, 12, (pictured, left, below), a student at ‘Ecole des Science Anglais et that was organized by Save the Children. She added that the activity helped children meet other children living in the same neighborhood and they learnt a lot.  Francais’ said that she was very happy about the activity

When asked about why she thinks reading is important in their lives, Kabayiza said that out of reading, they get to learn a lot of things including new words, and enriching their knowledge about our history and culture. She also urged her fellow children to continue reading because through such activities, children gain a lot of skills and are given a platform to participate in reading competitions across the country. She also revealed that she reads at least one book every night.


 Mercy Catherine, the Education Coordinator and Partnerships Manager at Save the Children, Rwanda encouraged children to love reading and develop a culture of reading as many books as early they can. Mercy urged the children to always practice their skills by reading out loud to each other so that those who are better at it can easily help out their fellow children to improve their skills.  She told the children that without reading, they may never make it to becoming the kind of people they want to be in life.  She also encouraged parents that attended the event to read to their children whenever they are reading so that they can easily help them to point improve their reading potential.

The Ruganwa Village leader, Mr. Jean Claude Ntuyenanabo said that this event was very good for raising awareness on reading but also for increasing community involvement as children from various backgrounds all gathered under one tent to enjoy books.  He said “I would wish this activity to be done every weekend if possible”. The women leaders of Ruganwa Village asked Save the Children to consider giving them books for a reading club so that children can have continuous access to the books for borrowing as well as using during follow up Umuganda Literacy events. They offered to manage the reading clubs and find space for literacy events for sustainability purposes. Uwimbabazi Patricia, the village in-charge of children’s affairs also commended the event and encouraged parents to always practice what they were taught on that day so that their children can be more exposed to the reading culture while they are still young.