Improving children’s reading: The Dreams of Abana writers’ café

By Elias Hakizimana.

Rwandan Children will benefit from Abana writers’ café to improve their reading skills in a local language that also contributes to social and cultural development by enabling them to think and dream how they can write own stories in the future.

Abana Writers’ café is a monthly event that serves as a platform for upcoming and established writers, poets, artists, storytellers and other enthusiasts with a keen interest in children’s books to come together to support the production of more and better children’s books.

It is also an opportunity for book sector players to spot and recruit new talent, and for budding writers and illustrators to get peer feedback and suggestions on their new work.

Speaking during the 4th Anniversary of Abana writers’ café, Martine Karekezi Uwacu, a teacher, poem and children story writer who was handed responsibility to lead this initiative, she said it is a platform established a couple of years back and has been a starting point to enable writers get good stories for children.  

Martine Uwacu Karekezi

Uwacu is among the founders of Sankofa Creatives that also writes stories of children.

In the past, in Rwanda was one children’s book publishing house called Edition Bakame, and few children’s books like Hobe with poor quality in terms of illustration. Uwacu said that that challenge is being improved as contributors to children stories nowadays are trained to make the difference.

She said that there is still another challenge of Kinyarwanda language that changed writing style, and different from spoken one. “This involves the delay of publishing process because a book needs to be corrected by many people to checkout language errors,” She said.

Different development partners have pledged to help expand the initiative countrywide as it is now operating in Kigali City only.

Beata Nyirabahizi, acting Director of Rwanda National Library based at the Ministry of Sport and Culture (MINISPOC) said that children’s books contribute a lot in raising the skills level in both reading and writing. 

Beatha Nyirabahizi

She said that reading culture is being improved according to MINISPOC observation.

“We will achieve a lot by nurturing children with writing skills in partnership with the private sector, government and development partners. The Government wants writers and publishers to provide contents that contribute to the community’s development,” Nyirabahizi said.

Alex Alubisia, Chief of Party of Save the Children’s Mureke Dusome four-year-USAID funded project said that they aim at improving reading culture of children in Rwanda and make sure children have opportunities to practice reading on daily basis after school hours at home, within the school and outside in the local community.

“Abana writers’ café aims to develop the talents of young authors and illustrators to get quality stories that need be published.  Because before Mureke Dusome and in general Save the Children started working with local publishers in Rwanda, many of the stories were not of good quality, it was necessary that we strengthen the publishing industry to have stories of high quality, interesting, stories that are motivating so that children enjoy reading. Our purpose is to improve the culture of reading in Rwanda, both in-school and outside school,” Alubisia said.

He said that the project will bring international experts from USA to boost capacity of Rwanda’s publishers.

The child in class is qualified as a good writer when he/she can write good sentences in Kinyarwanda according to Alubisia.

Under this initiative, at least 100 children’s stories were published with efforts of 80 writers and publishers.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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