Under the aegis of Rwanda Reads, Mureke Dusome in partnership with the MINISPOC and Arise Education, launched the Gira igitabo aho uri campaign on 23rd November 2017 at Kigali Convention Centre under the theme “Igitabo, isoko yo kubaka ubukungu bushingiye ku bumenyi” translated in English as “Books: the source to build knowledge-based economy”. The campaign will run for one year (November 2017 to 2018).
This campaign seeks to mobilize the community, leaders, private sector companies, employers and employees to recognize the importance of books, especially books on culture, as a source of information, a platform for excellence in academics and career, and a pleasurable activity; and to gift books to children, friends and families.
123 people representing Government officials, civil society organizations, publishing houses, community librarians, private companies, representatives of different schools, students and parents participated in the launch of Gira igitabo aho uri campaign.
The event included various activities aimed at promoting books, reading and writing. The campaign was launched by Hon. Minister Julienne Uwacu, Minister of Sports and Culture who discussed the confidence and trust she has in young authors as representatives of a better future full of books. Additionally, she called upon parents to start encouraging the culture of reading at home and to ensure children have space and time to read. In her speech, she said “As we keep developing as a country and the African continent, gradually the culture of reading will improve. I am optimistic that the adage of saying we don’t have a culture of reading will become part of history. We have stories to tell, and writers are available.” The Minister recognized how children are writing about the country’s values and history, and as well as touching on relevant gender issues. She also emphasized the urgency to develop books that are fit for Rwandan children and youth, books that reflect their contexts and culture.
A subsequent presentation was given by Ms. Mutesi Gasana, the Managing Director of Arise Education. In her remarks, she said, “It would be interesting to see and have wine, chocolates and books at home. Because if you tell your child to be interested in reading without availing the books instead you avail wine or chocolates, you will be telling the child the wrong thing. The best way is to tell him/her through actions, while availing the books as well.” Mutesi Gasana continued by encouraging parents to start budgeting for books as they do for other household needs.
The next presentation was delivered by Mr. Alex Alubisia, the Chief of Party of Mureke Dusome project. Mr. Alubisia emphasized the importance of reading as one of the pillars for any country’s development and the significance of government, parents and community engagement in the promotion of the culture of reading. He said “Through Mureke Dusome project, we are helping Rwandan authors to perfect and publish their amazing children’s stories in Kinyarwanda.” He observed that by fostering the reading culture, the outcomes will be visible in improved completion and transition rates in school as well as a reduced drop-out rate in primary and secondary levels.
In his remarks, Dr. Munyakazi acclaimed the children saying “I am very proud for these kids, very proud to be part of this, I am sure our country is in safe hands of these kids in the future. I am ready to mentor you, to be with you in this journey, and to see my name aside of yours on your next books.”
Lastly, the USAID Mission Director in Rwanda remarked she was touched and inspired to hear the stories from the young authors. She added that USAID aims to support Early Grade Education efforts in promoting the learning of reading. She reminded that it takes good books to trigger the love for reading, and that was what the young authors were doing. She continued mentioning that children learn faster and better when they start reading in their native languages and that basic literacy also improves economic growth. She added “We learn to read when we are reading books we love. More books in the hands of children and families will achieve the ambitious goals we have.”