By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda Children Books Organisation (RCBO) in partnership with Rwanda Education Board (REB) and the Ministry of Sport and Culture (MINISPOC) have started a 3-day book fair in Kigali to raise the culture of reading.
The book fair that started on September 19th, 2019 in Kigali City’s Car Free Zone aims at raising the culture of reading among children and mature people.
It is part of the National Literacy Month that also kicked off early this month with a theme “Reading in different languages is a source of knowledge”.
Alice Ikirezi, one of Book exhibitors said this exhibition hosts a variety of books that tells Rwanda’s Story in different languages including Kinyarwanda, French, Eglish and Swahili.
“Among the books being exhibited, some of them tell Rwanda’s story in the mother language like ‘Imigani migufi’ or proverbs, ‘Imigani miremire’ ‘tales’, ‘Ibisakuzo’ or riddles, and more to help children know the original mother language ‘Kinyarwanda’.
She said that children like reading but the challenge remains lack of enough books near the children.
Rosalie Ndejuru, an expert in Rwanda Archives and Library Services(RALSA) in the Ministry of Sport and Culture (MINISPOC) urged Rwandans to buy and use books in their daily lives so as to increase knowledge apart from promoting book industry.
She clarified that current books are totally different from the ones of the past in style, content and comprehension.
“In the past, you could read 200 words without getting the idea, but, today’s books are easy to understand just after reading only two lines. We need now to think on what we write and to whom”. She noted.
Rwanda Education Board decided to promote Kinyarwanda as mother language and made it a teaching language up to primary 3.
She explained that Kinyarwanda and culture were weakened by colonization, noting that the country needs to do all the best to refurbish this legacy.
Joan Murungi, Head of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Resources Department at Rwanda Education Board urges teachers to play the pivotal role in encouraging children to read.
She reiterated that books are reviewed by REB before being published to make sure they reflect real values to Rwandan Children.
Murungi said reading culture is still down, noting that the government encourages book production from local context and promoting early reading culture using local materials for production like boxes, pieces of clothe, etc.
“When you read you get knowledge, you know where you come from, where you are and the future, so, reading culture boosts knowledge, helps people tape into a modern world of knowledge based economy. I call up on teachers to supervise their children’s home works and help them to read,” she said.
Isaie Micomyiza, Chairman of Rwanda Children Book Organization (RCBO) said that books are still not enough but an improvement is being made to publish a big number.
Last year 2018, 15 members of RCBO published between 20 to 25 books each, which is not sufficient according to Micomyiza.
The three-day book fair is expected for raising the number of readers as it is attracting the public who among them buy and take home some for children.