The current poor reading culture in the country has been linked to limited access to reading materials among children.
Most children do not have access to storybooks outside of school with only five per cent of children having access to Kinyarwanda story books at home.
This is according to a recent joint baseline survey tracking literacy knowledge, attitudes and practices at school and community level done by the United State Agency International Developments (USAid) and Save the Children- Rwanda.
Only six per cent of children have access to a library or somewhere in their community where they can read or borrow books.
Grade level expectations
The study also showed primary students are failing to meet grade level expectations in literacy and numeracy while students of second primary and five primary students meet only about 45 per cent of grade level expectations in literacy.
Yet, 51 per cent of the survey respondents said they would read more often if they had access to books.
Now, a new initiative funded by USAid in partnership with Save the Children and the government seeks to bridge the gap by introducing reading clubs in every village countrywide to empower primary students to access reading materials.
“We are keen to cultivate the culture of reading among students beyond the classroom, to improve their class performance,” said Celestin Rutayisire, the co-ordinator of Mureke Dusome, a project by Save the Children.
Mureke Dusome, a four-year USAid-funded project seeks to improve literacy by improving access to storybooks.
“Even though we still have a shortage of books, the project has addressed the shortage of Kinyarwanda story books for lower primary classes,” said Jacqueline Mujawamariya, the head teacher of Gafumba Primary school in Burera district.
She added that students can now borrow and read stories during the reading club, which meets twice a week.
The project aims to set up 2,500 reading clubs countrywide by September this year.
Currently, there are over 1,400 reading clubs equipped with 100 different story books each, in 18 districts that are working with nearby primary schools.
So far over 317,000 children have joined the reading clubs.