Reading is the cornerstone of academic success, and “finding ways to engage pupils in reading may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social chang. If children leave primary school with a strong foundation of literacy skills, they will be ready for a lifetime of reading and learning that will furnish the knowledge and inspiration they need to further improve their economic competitiveness, health, civic engagement and quality of life.
In an effort to develop and foster such a culture of reading among children and adults throughout Rwanda, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) through the Rwanda Education Board (REB) and in cooperation with development partners (DPs) launched the Soma Rwanda/ Rwanda Reads initiative in July 2012. The habit of reading can play a significant role in achieving the objectives of the Government of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 by empowering the citizens of Rwanda to independently seek and access print materials. Also aimed at improving literacy and language outcomes among students, Rwanda Reads is fully in line with the Education Sector Strategic Plan (2018/19-2023/24) which explicitly outlines priorities and policy actions targeting the acquisition of literacy skills among Rwandan primary and secondary school students.
Reads seeks to support, facilitate, and promote efforts to create literate citizens of Rwanda more capable of influencing their own individual achievement, economic growth, and better health - all of which will contribute to the overall development and prosperity of the country. By investing in the readers of today, Rwanda Reads supports the leaders of tomorrow. The guiding framework for Soma Rwanda/Rwanda Reads focuses on identifying and overcoming capacity gaps and analyzing supply and demand among stakeholders. The following graphic illustrates how various activities contribute to this initiative.
Rwanda Reads aims to cultivate a culture of reading in a holistic, coordinated manner toward advancing a more literate society better capable of contribution to its own progressive and prosperous future. As noted above, various initiatives and activities targeting the promotion of a reading culture are being implemented by different stakeholders, but much more could be achieved with increased collaboration of efforts. Rwanda Reads aims to develop synergies and bring all stakeholders together, providing a platform for information sharing, networking, and promotion of activities and initiatives with the common goal of improving opportunities for reading that maximizes energy, effort, and resources throughout the country. By design, Rwanda Reads is a multi-institutional initiative. Rwanda Reads is not an implementation body itself, but rather a knowledge platform and a coordination forum bringing various stakeholders in both the public and private sector together under one common purpose.
Rwanda Reads will be responsible for strengthening efforts to promote a culture of reading throughout Rwanda. In particular, it will be responsible for the following:
The membership will consist of public and private institutions, organizations, and individuals that are interested in helping Rwanda develop a culture of reading.Rwanda Reads is governed by a Steering Committee chaired by the Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education and co-chaired by Education Office Director, USAID, supported by a Secretariat appointed by the co-chairs. Other members of the Steering Committee includes 20 advisors selected from key institutions/organizations. There is a Technical Committee which provides backstopping support to the Steering Committee and a General Assembly which includes all interested stakeholder groups, both public and private.
A Steering Committee coordinates the efforts of Rwanda Reads. The Rwanda Reads Steering Committee reports directly to the Education Sector Working Group (ESWG) through the co-chairs. Currently co-chaired by MINEDUC and USAID, the Steering Committee is the ultimate decision-making body for the Rwanda Reads platform. The Steering Committee’s key roles and responsibilities are outlined below:
The agenda for the quarterly Steering Committee meetings will be set by the co-chairs, and be focused on actions necessary to coordinate initiatives across ministries and further policy-level advocacy related to reading promotion. The agenda and invitations will be circulated by the co-chairs through email and members will have an opportunity to add items as appropriate. Items to be discussed at the meeting must be included on the agenda, but under exceptional circumstances an item not on the agenda may be addressed at the meeting provided all members present or represented agree to this addition. Each Steering Committee meeting will conclude with a set of resolutions for follow up. Roles of the Co-Chairs
The Rwanda Reads Technical Committee will be established to support the Steering Committee as the decision-making body and inform key discussions on literacy promotion and fostering a culture of reading. The Technical Committee will be chaired by the Secretariat. The Technical Committee will meet once per quarter; however, additional meetings may be called to act on key priorities.
The key roles and responsibilities of the Technical Committee include:
The main role of the General Assembly will be to:
The agenda for the annual General Assembly meetings will be approved by the co-chairs. The agenda and invitation will be circulated by the Secretariat through email in advance so that individual members of the General Assembly meeting have the opportunity to add items as appropriate. The General Assembly will discuss only items on the agenda. Membership is open to any organization, institution, business or individual who is interested in supporting the promotion of reading in Rwanda.
Rwanda Reads has four working groups organized by thematic areas in literacy promotion and fostering a culture of reading. The working groups include the following:
Each working group will be chaired by a Rwanda Reads member. Working Group chairs will be elected at General Assembly meetings and serve a two-year term.
Frequency of Meetings:
Steering Committee meetings will be held once per quarter. However, extraordinary meetings may be called at any time to address urgent matters related to this initiative. Additionally, sub-committees may be formed from amongst steering committee members and meet more frequently, reporting on activities at the Steering Committee meetings. Steering Committee meetings will be action-oriented and focus on high-level oversight and coordination. Technical Committee meetings will be held once a quarter while the General Assembly meeting will be held once a year.
The co-chairs will appoint a Secretariat that will provide coordination, monitoring and administrative support for Rwanda Reads. Key roles and responsibilities of the Secretariat include: