Claudine (real name withheld on request), a mother of 5 who resides in Nyabihu district is among the community members playing a key role in promoting children’s literacy. Her son, Daudi, 6, is one of the many children who attend this community library.
“Daudi was always loitering around the village, playing with other kids some of whom I was afraid would have a bad influence on him. There was a lot of destruction within our area, and the kids had nothing else to keep them positively occupied. I was always insecure that he would learn bad habits. His grades were bad too,” Claudine recalls.
Claudine was later approached by her local leaders who encouraged her and made her realize how she too can play a role in promoting children’s literacy within her community.
“Today my child has access to a community library. He enjoys going to the library and reading books. I am happy that I am not only reaching my son but other children in our community too. I and other community members are also playing a role in ensuring our children improve their literacy levels,” she said.
Ecstasy is written all over her face as she talks about her son’s progress in school, all the goodness that she attributes to the community library in her home area and her contribution towards her son’s improved literacy.
Uburezi Iwacu is striving to increase community engagement in promoting children’s literacy by improving the quality of community-led activities, developing children’s access to community structures and activities, and strengthening home-community-school partnerships.
In its first year of implementation, Uburezi Iwacu had already registered some impressive successes as shared by Emmanuel, Executive Secretary of Rwankuba Cell, Gatsibo District, “By the time Uburezi Iwacu started operating in our area, some reading clubs were less operational. They had no reading materials and some areas did not even have any reading clubs. These were formed and books given to them, this has seen increased attendance by children and improvement in reading and comprehension.”
Identification and selection of community volunteers by the local leadership has also enabled the community to own the project. It builds a hybrid structure of volunteers by adapting the existing community actors such as Inshuti Z’umuryango (IZUs) and Community Health Workers (CHW) to set up teams of volunteers benefiting from the registered success in health and childcare reform.
According to John Bosco, Gokoma Village Leader, “Our role as local leadership is to raise awareness about the project and sensitize parents to bring children. We make sure to include children with disability to access reading camps and clubs too.”
Uburezi Iwacu is promoting literacy among children aged 3-9 years by improving the quality of community-led activities, developing children’s access to community structures and activities, and strengthening home-community-school partnerships, according to Dez Byamukama, Chief of Party for Uburezi Iwacu Activity.
Edward, a Pastor at EAR Mukamira, Nyabihu district also committed to mobilizing more people, including his congregation to support children’s literacy activities.
“We are going to mobilize more community members. We are even glad to provide space for these children to come and read,” he said.
Uburezi Iwacu Activity is a 5-year activity and a follow-up of several previous interventions seeking to promote children’s literacy that experienced a common challenge of the reluctance of community members to embrace literacy-supportive activities.
World Vision International, Rwanda in partnership with other consortium members including; Imbuto Foundation, Humanity, and Inclusion, and the Government of Rwanda through USAID’s funded Uburezi Iwacu Activity is working to improve through increasing community engagement to pave a bright future for all children.