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Rwanda, 30 August 2016: School-based mentors instill reading culture

By Jung Yuen Park

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Children busy reading in the reading room.

Nyarugenge district, Kigali City, Rwanda, 30 August 2016 – Alex Kilama is one of school-based mentors with a focus on reading at the Kanyinya Child Friendly School (CFS). As a reading mentor, he is happy to see the reading culture now well-rooted in his school. “Before, we had to bring children to come to the reading room. Now we have a nice reading room with many books and children come voluntarily to read.”

Kanyinya CFS had a reading room but it did not have enough reading materials. UNICEF supports the national initiative ‘Rwanda Reads’ by supporting schools with reading materials to support teaching and learning, and to promote reading culture through these materials. Through this initiative, Kanyinya CFS has received over 1,000 books for the new reading room, enabling its environment to encourage reading.

Alex says when the children come for the first time, he lets them choose what they feel most comfortable reading – even if that means picture books – so that they get used to and feel comfortable spending time with books. “Most children are most comfortabe reading Kinyarwanda storybooks, which are in their mother-tongue, rather than English books. I try not to interrupt children while reading unless they need my support. I want them to develop a reading habit and spending time to read books.”

© UNICEF Rwanda/2016/Park
Alex helping children reading English books.

He prepares teachers’ training sessions together with Ezra, the other school-based mentor. He says, “teachers appreciate my efforts and ask for more sessions.”

Tuesday afternoons are allocated with secondary school students for Alex. He talks to them about the benefits of reading and how to read. However, he thinks the allocated time is not enough and more time could be provided for reading.

“I always tell teachers to view from children’s perspective, to bring ourselves down physically and psychologically. I am happy to help children and teachers at the same time,” says Alex.

Alex and other reading mentors are supported by UNICEF through International Education Exchange, a local NGO with which UNICEF partners to complement government efforts for in-service teacher development and supporting promotion of reading to improve children’s reading outcomes.



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