Rwanda: what needs to be done to encourage children to read more?
According to Save the Children data, only nine percent of parents read a story to a child, and three percent of children have read at least one Kinyarwanda storybook.
And, while the government and some development partners have implemented initiatives to promote reading in the country, 75 percent of parents point to the scarcity of children’s story books as one of the main challenges.
Perpétue Uwera, CEO of Perdua Publishers, a Kigali-based publishing house, says publishers should consider reducing the cost of books if they are to be widely available to children.
“Most of the children in rural areas don’t have access to e-books, yes they have books but they are stuck in their school libraries,” she told The New Times.
Uwera suggests that mobile libraries could be the answer to this problem.
For her, books can be delivered to the children at home, read them and then return them.
She is well aware that with the miserable coronavirus, implementing her proposal could be a tall order, and suggests that books can be disinfected before they are distributed to other children.
“This is a plan that we are working on with other key partners and we hope it will improve the reading culture in children,” she said.
On top of that, Uwera suggests that publishers start offering free books online, leveraging community radio, which is easy to access, to deliver audiobooks to children.
Mother Mary Complex teacher Betty Mukashema says the first effort should come from parents reading with their children.
Parents, she said, should also be involved in educating their children to read culture.
“As a teacher at the start of the school year, I see a decrease due to the fact that the children did not read during the holidays, not only the homework but also the storybooks, it is something that can be avoided thanks to the parent involvement, ”says Mukashema, who is also a parent.
While she is aware that accessing physical books in libraries during Covid-19 remains a challenge, she says that shouldn’t be an excuse for not making it easier for children to read.
“Let’s use the internet to access more books and try to involve children, because implementing this culture at an early age will help them in the future,” she added.
Author Imanirafasha Félicien attributes the deterioration of children’s reading culture to the proliferation of social media platforms where children spend most of their time texting each other, posting their photos and watching. videos.
“Thanks to supervised screen time, children can concentrate more on reading, they should be encouraged to invest more time in reading than they spend on social networks, but also be willing to provide them with books, if each household has allocated money to buy books for the children like they buy any other material in the house, they should keep in mind to buy books that interest the children and make it a habit and invest in books as part of children’s education, then the reading culture can improve from the family level. ” he said.