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  • Rachel Duncan

Literacy and skill development at UPS

National Literacy Month is celebrated in Rwanda every year throughout the month of September, coinciding with International Literacy Day which is celebrated annually on the 8th September.

APIE sits on the Rwanda Reads platform, a national level coordination platform that brings together The Ministry of Education, the Rwanda Education Board, schools, NGOs and businesses to support and promote literacy development across the country. This year as part of our work with Rwanda Reads, APIE worked closely with our flagship project, Umubano Primary School (UPS), to support the global theme of ‘literacy and skills development’. During the week leading up to International Literacy Day, classes at the school reflected on the importance of developing good literacy skills and the positive impact that this can have on their future.

"Good literacy skills help you to communicate well. They help me in debating and writing stories. I would like to work in business or be a lawyer when I am older and I need good literacy skills for this."

- Christine, UPS Primary 6 student

Activities to promote the importance of developing literacy skills were carried out throughout the month, including in the nursery classes where students were encouraged to share a book with their class, describe the pictures and discuss the story. During a number of social studies lessons in primary 6, students were developing their research and note-taking skills by researching the Cabinet of Rwanda and the roles within it. Every morning at assembly a student read their favourite story to the school and as part of weekly circle meetings, a time to share views and discuss ideas across the school, students discussed how they could care for the library and the books within it. Teachers also ran optional reading competitions in their classes from primary 1 to primary 6; P1 and P2 read in Kinyarwanda, P3 and P4 in French and P5 and P6 in English. Teachers looked for students who could read confidently and with expression, and had the ability to engage their audience.

APIE supported UPS to deliver two days of training to families on how they can support their children’s literacy development at home. Teachers discussed strategies that parents can use to develop a culture of reading for enjoyment in the home, as well as sharing ICT applications that are used to support English, Kinyarwanda and French lessons in school. Parents were able to try the applications for themselves and some have downloaded them onto their smartphones for their children to use.

We always work to develop strong partnerships with other organisations and this is reflected in our work with, an organisation that creates and distributes local language and English books to support children to develop their reading skills. The students at UPS have access to a large range of books on the application in both English and Kinyarwanda. During September students and teachers reflected on the application and how it has supported language development and a love of reading across the school.

“My favourite thing about UPS is the library because it is full of beautiful story books. I also enjoy using the app because I like reading. I like reading the English books because they help me to improve my English. My favourite book on the app is ‘Snow White’ because it teaches us how to live peacefully and respect all living things in the world.”

– Nadine, UPS Primary 4 student

“I have a child in my class who did not really enjoy reading but now, thanks largely to the app, she has read a number of books in both English and Kinyarwanda. She is from Kenya and the app has given her the opportunity to read lots of stories in Kinyarwanda to improve her understanding of the language.”

– Samuel, UPS Primary 5 class teacher

Although National Literacy Month and International Literacy Day have given us the opportunity to highlight the importance of developing good language skills, we know that this is something that is ongoing and integral to our work throughout the year. At APIE we continue to work in partnership with other organisations both across Rwanda and globally to ensure that the importance of literacy is continuously promoted and developed.

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