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Rwanda, August 2016: Kwiga Birashimisha: Learning is fun

By Albertine Uwimana and Jung Yuen Park

Gicumbi District, Rwanda, August 2016 – Damascene is 13 years old. Due to a visual impairment, Damascene had never attended school. Initially, his parents thought his vision would make it too difficult for him to attend. But in February of this year, Damascene decided to enrol in Primary 1.

Damascene has always enjoyed listening to the radio, and one day he heard about an interesting programme called “Itetero” on Radio Rwanda. “Itetero” means “children’s nurturing space” in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s local language. “I really like listening to Itetero on the radio. It taught me how to count and learn new letters. I also learned that I should respect my parents and other people,” Damascene said.

Apart from learning, Damascene also enjoys listening to the songs from Itetero. “Abana mbere na mbere, mwishime nta kibazo; kwiga birashimisha! (Children first! Be happy, no worries! Learning is fun!)”, Damascene sings. The song was composed by Eija Ahvo and Susanna Haavisto, Goodwill Ambassadors from UNICEF Finland who have been supporting UNICEF programmes for over three decades. They visited Rwanda in February 2016 and composed the song and to sing with child actors on the Itetero radio programme.

At school, Damascene joined the Rights Club, which boasts 45 student members. Based on his experiences in the club, he composed a new song on children’s rights with support from one of his teachers. His song talks about children’s rights to nutrition, education, protection, health care, and identity. “My song is dedicated to all parents because I want them to know and respect children’s rights,” he says.

The Itetero Radio Program is entirely child-friendly, including animal and family dramas, children’s plays, a number- and letter-of-the-day, stories and songs, and expert interviews. “My favourite character is Bakame in the animal drama; he is funny and he likes playing with his friends. I also like Cyusa from the family drama; he is like a mentor for his young sister and I like that,” says Damascene. “I listen to Itetero with my friends when we go to fetch water. I tell them that I learned a lot from it, and they enjoy it, too.”

“Itetero inspired me. I made my decision to go to school because I heard about the importance of learning in Itetero,” he says proudly.

Itetero radio program is made up of child friendly segments including animal and family drama, children’s voices and play time, story-telling, number and letter of the day as well as expert interview, which provides parenting advice.

Itetero programme season 2 started on 5th July this year. It is aired every Tuesday at 5:30PM on Radio Rwanda with re-broadcasting on Thursdays 6:30PM and Saturdays 10:30AM.



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