Rwanda’s third annual Book and Reading Festival has kicked off today with the launch of a community library in Rulindo, Northern Province. Themed ‘Literacy for Self-Reliance’, the festival aims to promote a reading and writing culture, raise awareness about the role of libraries, and calls upon parents to instil a reading culture into their children.
The weeklong festival is organised by the Ministry of Sports and Culture in partnership with Rwanda Library Services, and will be marked by storytelling, reading sessions, writing and reading competitions and other school competitions. The festival will conclude with a walk involving all partners for literacy.
Agnes Ukundamariya, the founder of Editions Bakame, Rwanda’s first publishing company which was established in 1995, believes that the festival is an opportunity to develop strong literacy skills and provide support to local publications.
“The availability of a wide range of books, especially those in Kinyarwanda, and the existence of reading centres open for all gives a chance for local publications to thrive,” she said.
Throughout the week, Rwanda Library Services will be informing the public about the role of community libraries across the country. Children, young people and adults are invited to visit libraries and sign up to reading clubs and parents are encouraged to be reading role models for their children. Those in remote areas will access books through a mobile library.
Festival partners include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Education Development Centre, Editions Bakame, Ishyo Arts Centre, Save the Children and the Rwanda Book Publishers Association.
Rwanda aims to become a knowledge-driven, middle income economy by 2020. This vision will be achieved by literate communities and adopting a reading culture is seen as a path to developing literacy skills towards self reliance.